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Corn, soybean harvest in ’05 is second best
Farm World Editor

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Experts were mixed in their reactions to the USDA’s report on the 2005 harvest.

The leaders of some commodity groups were pleased with the higher-than-expected yields. However, market watchers at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) warned of a bear market.

On Jan. 12, the USDA said corn for grain production was estimated at 11.1 billion bushels, up 1 percent from the November forecast but down 6 percent from the 11.8 billion bushels produced in 2004.

The average U.S. grain yield is estimated at 147.9 bushels per acre, down 0.5 bushel from the November forecast and down 12.5 bushels from 2004.

The 2005 production and yield estimates are the second largest on record, behind last year. Area harvested for grain, at 75.1 million acres, is up 2 percent from 2004.

Considering the economic and environmental challenges of the past growing season, National Corn Growers Assoc. President Gerald Tumbleson said he was pleased with the production levels.

“NCGA’s member and corn growers around the nation should be proud of this significant accomplishment,” he said. “This is the third consecutive year we have topped at least 140 bushels per acre, and we look forward to continuing that trend in 2006.”

For soybeans, production in 2005 totaled 3.09 billion bushels, the second largest U.S. soybean crop on record. This is up 1 percent from the November forecast but 1 percent below the record-setting 2004 crop.

The average yield per acre is estimated at a record high 43.3 bushels, 0.6 bushel above the November forecast and 1.1 bushels above the 2004 final yield. Harvested area is down 4 percent from 2004, to 71.4 million acres.

In Illinois, soybean production totaled 444.15 million bushels, about 50 million bushels less than the record crop harvested in 2004. The total ranks Illinois second in the nation, behind Iowa which produced $532.65 million bushels.

Corn production totaled 1.7 billion bushels, down 380 million bushels from 2004.

"Considering the tremendous challenges that 2005 presented, the soybean and corn harvests were remarkable, an indication that our farmers are among the most productive and efficient producers in the country," said Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke.

"The figures, however, do not indicate everything is fine down on the farm. First, these numbers are statewide averages. I know firsthand that some farmers suffered significant yield losses because of the drought and are hurting. Second, input costs remain high and prices are low. So, although production was respectable, profit margins are thin and many farmers experienced a drop in their net income."

“Well, there is not a lot of positive news today,” said Jack Scoville, an agricultural market watcher with JSL of San Jose, Costa Rica and one of the CBOT’s panelists evaluating the USDA’s latest report. Joe Victor, an analyst with Allendale, Inc. and a CBOT panelist said the report may not have a long-term impact. “There was bearish report in December,” he said. “There was a bearish report in November. And what did we do? We rallied.”

For other grains, sorghum production for 2005 was estimated at 394 million bushels, up 2 percent from the November forecast but 13 percent below 2004.

The USDA estimated that all cotton production was at a record high 23.7 million bales, up fractionally from last month and 2 percent more than last year’s production. Production surpasses the previous record high set last year, while yield is the second highest on record.

Published in the January 18, 2006 issue of Farm World.