By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. corn production estimates have dropped slightly from September figures, while soybean production is projected to be up, according to the latest numbers from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
Based on conditions Oct. 1, corn production nationwide is expected to be 10.705 billion bushels, down from the September estimate of 10.727 billion. The October number represents a 13 percent drop from last year.
It would be the lowest crop production since 2006, NASS said in its report, which was released Oct. 11. Average yield is expected to be 122 bushels per acre, down less than a bushel from September and down 25.2 from 2011. It would be the lowest average yield since 1995.
For soybeans, production is expected to be 2.86 billion bushels, up 9 percent from September but down 8 percent from 2011. Average yields are expected to be 37.8 bushels per acre, up 2.5 percent from September and down 4.1 percent from last year.
“The 2012 growing season has maybe not been without precedent, but it’s certainly been one for the ages,” said Greg Wagner, president of GWX Ag Advisors. “It’s been an extremely challenging year both for producers and end users.”
The growing season has run ahead of schedule most of the year in many parts of the country, helping with the accuracy of this and last month’s USDA reports, analysts said.
“The maturity of the crop during the last crop report in September provided for the USDA to get a better grasp on what yield potential was than they had in the past,” Wagner stated. “It has provided ample opportunity for USDA to get a better handle on the size of the crop.”
The speed of the harvest makes the numbers “less of a guesstimate up front,” said Jerrod Kitt, director of research with The Linn Group. “It used to be your definitive crop report was in November. This year, October numbers are going to be thought to be much more reliable just due to the advanced nature of the crop.”
The outlook for the soybean crop improved thanks to precipitation at the right time, Kitt said.
“Finishing weather in some parts of the U.S. was absolutely crucial in improving the soybean crop,” he explained. “We were predicting disaster three months ago, and then we had pretty good rains in some areas in August. The temperatures cooled down, which helped to fill out more beans.”
USDA also released its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report last week. Worldwide corn production is projected to be down 2 million metric tons (mmt) in 2012-13, with exports decreasing 1.1 mmt.
For soybeans, global production is projected to be 264.3 mmt, up 6.2 million.
U.S. corn exports are expected to be down 100 million bushels for 2012-13, while soybean exports are estimated to increase by 210 million.
“The United States is the only game in town for about six months, until the South American crop comes out,” Kitt noted. “The demand side for soybeans is very tight. If you get an extra 200 million bushels of beans, that just means we’re going to export an extra 200 million bushels of beans. We’re going to get rid of these beans no matter how many the farmer will throw at us.”
For wheat, U.S. export estimates dropped 50 million bushels for 2012-13, according to the WASDE report. Global wheat supplies dropped 6.2 mmt and global consumption dropped 2.4 million.
“Over the last year or so, effectively, wheat has become corn,” Kitt said. “We’ve had near record if not record world feed wheat usage and I would expect that to continue.
“The problem is, you’ve taken wheat carryouts down from burdensome to comfortable to, ‘hmm, do you have enough?’ Wheat is going to have to try and battle away from this wheat-is-corn phenomenon in order to preserve its own supply situation.”
Average corn yields are projected to be down for regional states, NASS said.
In Illinois, average yield is expected to be 98 bushels per acre, down from 157 last year. For Indiana, it’s 100 bushels, down from 146; Iowa, 140, down from 172; Kentucky, 68, down from 139; Michigan, 118, down from 153; Ohio, 123, down from 158; and Tennessee, 89, down from 131.
In Illinois, farmers planted 12.8 million acres of corn for all purposes and harvested 12.4 million, NASS said. In Indiana, 6.2 million were planted and 6.1 million harvested; Iowa, 14.2 million planted, 13.7 million harvested; Kentucky, 1.65 million planted, 1.54 million harvested; Michigan, 2.65 million planted, 2.3 million harvested; Ohio, 3.9 million planted, 3.6 million harvested; and Tennessee, 1.03 million planted, 970,000 harvested.
In the United States, 96.9 million acres of corn were planted and 87.7 million were to be harvested.
Average yields for soybeans are also expected to be down in all but one state in this area. The average yield in Illinois is projected to be 39 bushels per acre, down from 47.5 last year. In Indiana, 41 bushels, down from 45.5; Iowa, 43, down from 51.5; Kentucky, 37, down from 39; Michigan, 39, down from 44; Ohio, 43, down from 48; and Tennessee, 35, up from 32.
For soybeans, Illinois farmers planted 9.05 million acres and harvested 8.8 million. In Indiana, 5.15 million were planted and 5.14 million harvested; Iowa, 9.35 million planted, 9.29 million harvested; Kentucky, 1.47 million planted, 1.45 million harvested; Michigan, 2 million planted, 1.99 million harvested; Ohio, 4.6 million planted, 4.58 million harvested; and Tennessee, 1.26 million planted, 1.22 million harvested.
Across the country, 77.2 million acres of beans were planted and 75.7 million were to be harvested.