Corn, soy crop forecasts raised to even bigger record levels

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2014 - USDA is raising its forecast for the corn and soybean crops to levels higher than the records predicted a month ago.

The corn harvest will total 14.395 billion bushels, up from 14.032 billion projected in August, and 3.4 percent bigger than the previous record crop of 13.925 billion bushels in 2013, USDA said Thursday in a monthly report. Farmers are expected to reap about 171.7 bushels from each harvested acre, also a record and an increase of more than 4 bushels per acre from the month-ago forecast. If realized, corn yields would be up almost 13 bushels from the 2013 average.

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And the crop may end up even bigger than the latest forecast. Allendale Inc. points out that in each of the previous four record yield years - 1994, 2003, 2004 and 2009 - USDA increased its yield estimate again from September to October.

“Allendale still holds its expectations that final yields will push to 174.1 by the January report,” the respected market researcher and consulting firm said on its website.

The soybean crop was estimated at 3.913 billion bushels, up almost 100 million bushels from the August forecast and 20 percent bigger than last year's 3.289 billion bushels of production. Yields will reach a record 46.6 bushels per acre, USDA said.

For corn, farm-gate prices will average about $3.50 a bushel for the crop year that began Sept. 1, down from $3.90 predicted in August and $4.45 in the previous year, USDA said. The American Farm Bureau Federation said that would be the lowest average price since 2006-2007.

“And it's unlikely these prices will improve as the season's projected carryover is 2.002 billion bushels, the largest carryover since the 2004-2005 market year,” said AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson

For soybeans, prices will average about $10 a bushel, down from the month-ago forecast of $10.35 and down from $13 a bushel in previous year. The soybean carryover, or unsold supplies at the end of the marketing year, is forecast at 475 million bushels, up from the record low of 130 million bushels at the end of 2013-2014 and the largest since 2006-2007.

The two most valuable U.S. crops have benefited from mild summer temperatures and ample rainfall in most growing areas. As a result, almost three-quarters of the corn and soybeans were rated good or excellent at the end of August. Expectations for bumper harvests have pushed corn futures down to four-year lows, around $3.44 a bushel, and soybean prices to under $10 a bushel.

Some other highlights from today's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates:

  • The estimate for world wheat ending stocks was raised to 196.38 million metric tons, from 192.96 million forecast in August. Global production was increased 3.9 million tons, to a record 720 million tons, due to bigger expected harvests in the EU and Ukraine.
  • U.S. cotton production will total 16.54 million 480-pound bales, down from 17.5 million forecast in August, partly because of a smaller expected crop in Texas. The U.S. will still come in much bigger than the 12.91 million bale drought-depleted harvest of a year earlier.
  • Rice growers will harvest 218.3 million hundredweight of the grain, down almost 5 percent from the previous estimate, partly due to a reduced estimates for harvested area and production in California, where farmers are dealing with a multiyear drought.

In a separate report, USDA said California's navel orange production for 2014-2015 will fall to 1.62 million tons, down 4 percent from last season because of the drought and a freeze in December 2013. The harvest is expected to begin in October.

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