Can yields really "fully" recover in 2013?

Published on: 15:43PM Feb 22, 2013

Chip Flory

From The Editor

Feb. 22, 2013

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

Pro Farmer Associate Editor Meghan Pedersen was in Washington D.C. this week for USDA's Ag Outlook Forum. She sat in on all the market outlook sessions and came away with a somewhat skeptical impression from some of the sessions because of the optimistic outlook towards 2013 yield potential.

I don't want to downplay the potential of a recovery in yields this year. It happened in Brazil... a drought-hammered crop in 2011-12 was replaced by really good yield potential for the 2012-13 growing season. But Brazil is different. Soils don't hold water like our do and rains are typically more predictable in the tropics than here in the Midwest. And even in a "normal" growing season, the U.S. Midwest typically has to tap into subsoil moisture to survive a week or two without doing damage to yield potential.

Simply put, Brazil's soil moisture is constantly being drained and replaced in a normal year. U.S. Midwest soils take more time to rebuild subsoil moisture... and that moisture typically remains available to crops for a longer period of time. Starting the season without adequate subsoil moisture is a concern. I know USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber said something like, "There's no reason to not expect a yield recovery," but I disagree. Dry soils now simply lowers the availability of moisture for Midwest crops tap into later this summer. So... there is reason to not expect a yield recovery.

That doesn't mean yields won't recover... but it will take more than a "normal" or "average" growing season. Conditions will have to be excellent with spring rains (but not too much to delay planting), timely summer rains (don't make the crop work too hard to reach moisture) and maybe most importantly, temperatures will have to be more moderate than last year.

Unfortunately, above-normal temperatures throughout 2013's growing season is where weather forecasters agree the most. There's no guarantee temperatures will be hotter than normal this year, but most forecasters are warning another hot season lies ahead. That alone gives me reason to not expect a full yield recovery in 2013.


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That's it for now...


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