ROCHESTER: US corn and soyaabean production will fall below the government’s current forecasts but farmers can still expect a bin-busting harvest, farm advisory Pro Farmer said.
Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory, who led an annual crop tour this week that surveyed corn and soyaa fields across the Midwest, said the corn crop will be the largest on record and farmers should hedge it accordingly, despite some yield loss due to immaturity and dry conditions in August.
“It’s still a record crop -sell strength,” said Flory.
Pro Farmer projected record US 2013 corn production at 13.46 billion bushels, based on a yield of 154.1 bushels per acre, using data collected during this week’s four-day Midwest crop tour, plus other market variables.
The figures compare to the US Agriculture Department’s latest forecast of a 13.763 billion bushel crop with a yield of 154.4 bushels per acre.
The current record for US corn production was set in 2009, when farmers harvested 13.092 billion bushels. The biggest US soyabean crop came that same year, at 3.359 billion bushels.
On soyabeans, Pro Farmer forecast US production at 3.158 billion bushels, with an average yield of 41.8 bushels per acre -which would be the fourth-largest in history. The estimate is 3 per cent below USDA’s current outlook for a crop of 3.255 billion bushels with a yield of 42.6 bushels per acre.
Soybean yield potential has been hurt more than corn by the dryness in August, the critical month for soyabeans when they typically set and fill pods, tour scouts said.
Pro Farmer this week surveyed 2,700 corn and soyabean fields in the top seven Midwest crop states -Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Those states account for 69 per cent of US corn production and 62 per cent of soyabean production in USDA’s projections for 2013.
Given mostly dry weather in the US crop belt in recent weeks, commodity analysts were not surprised that Pro Farmer’s estimates fell below USDA’s forecasts.
“I think their numbers are pretty neutral because we’ve all been dialing in losses because of the declining conditions and the impact of heat and dryness in August,” said Shawn McCambridge, analyst with Jefferies Bache in Chicago.
McCambridge and other analysts expected that Pro Farmer’s estimates would not have much impact on Chicago Board of Trade corn and soya futures when trade resumes on Sunday night.
“Next week the real direction of the market will be determined by the weather, more than anything else,” said Don Roose, president of US Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.
“The Pro Farmer tour has had a tendency to underestimate the yields historically. They underestimated 8 out of 11 years for soyabeans, 7 out of 11 for corn,” Roose said.
Among tour scouts’ biggest concerns was the immaturity of the crops. Plants are especially vulnerable to frost this autumn west of the Mississippi River, where development is farther behind crops to the east, scouts said.
“Frost would come into play if we have it any time before later dent stage,” said Jason Franck, an agronomist and a consultant for the western leg of the tour, referring to a corn development phase when a dent forms at the end of the kernel.
The USDA said 11 per cent of the US corn crop had reached the dent stage by Aug.18, compared with the five-year average of 30 per cent.
“If it comes any time before late dent, we really could have some significant yield losses. After that, the yield losses would be there but they wouldn’t be as significant,” Franck said.
Much of the corn in Iowa, the top US producer, was still in the late milk to early dough stage. Those crops would need normal weather for the next four weeks to reach late dent, Franck said.
“If we can go four weeks without a freeze, soyabeans are going to be far enough along that they wouldn’t be affected too bad. But they are going to get hurt worse than corn will.”
A freeze could also make both crops more difficult to harvest, Franck said.
Pro Farmer said its production figures were based on smaller estimates of harvested area than the USDA’s current forecasts of 99.5 million acres for corn and 76.4 million acres for soyabeans.
“We took 1.8 million off of harvested acres for corn and 800,000 harvested acres off of soyabeans to reflect the prevented plant acres in Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota,” Pro Farmer said in a statement.
Farmers in Iowa and Minnesota have filed insurance claims for thousands of acres they were unable to plant this spring due to heavy rainfall. More claims are likely, said Mike Day, president of Rural Community Insurance Services, a subsidiary of Wells Fargo and the country’s top crop insurance provider.