U.S. corn and soybean production will be smaller than the previous year based on fractionally lower planted acreage and trend yields, USDA said today in its first projections for major crops for the 2018-2019 crop year.
Farmers will harvest 14.39 billion bushels of corn, the nation’s biggest crop, down 1 percent from 14.604 billion a year ago and smaller than the record crop of 15.148 billion bushels in 2016-2017, USDA said. Soybean production is projected at 4.32 billion bushels, down from 4.392 billion in the previous year. The forecasts were released Friday morning at the USDA Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. On Thursday the department said planted acreage for both crops would be about 90 million acres.
The national average corn yield is seen at 174 bushels per acre, down from last year’s record of 176.6 bushels. Corn used for ethanol production is projected 5.65 billion bushels, the highest ever and up 125 million bushels from 2017-2018. If realized that would account for almost 40 percent of the crop. About 1.9 billion bushels will be sold abroad, USDA said, down 150 million bushels from a year earlier, due to competition from Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine.
For soybeans, the second-biggest U.S. crop, the national average yield is forecast at 48.5 bushels per acre, 0.6 bushel below last year and 3.5 bushels below the 2016 record. Exports of the oilseed are projected at 2.3 billion bushels, up 200 million bushels from 2017-2018.
“Global trade will continue to be driven by China, which currently accounts for nearly two-thirds of world trade,” USDA said. “Continued demand growth in the rest of Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa region will provide additional support for a rise in global imports.”
Here are the projections for other major crops as well as beef, pork and broilers.
- Wheat output for the 2018-19 marketing year is forecast at 1.839 billion bushels, up from 1.741 billion a year earlier, based on higher planted acreage, despite a drop in winter wheat plantings to the lowest level in 109 years. If realized, the crop would be down 20 percent from the 2016-2017 marketing year. USDA said the all-wheat yield will be up slightly from the previous year at 47.4 bushels per acre, based on a 20-year trend. Exports are projected at 925 million bushels, down from 950 million bushels.
- Total rice production is forecast at 217.8 million hundred-weight (cwt), up sharply from 178.2 million cwt a year earlier, based on a 17-percent increase in planted acreage to 2.88 million acres. For all rice, the average yield is projected at 7,631 pounds per acre, up 2 percent. Exports are seen at 106 million cwt, a 6 percent increase.
- The U.S. cotton crop is projected at 19.5 million bales, down 8.3 percent from a year earlier, despite a 5.5 percent increase in planted acreage due to recently passed legislation, incorporated into the 2014 farm bill for 2018. Yields are expected to decline almost 8 percent to 828 pounds per acre. Cotton exports are forecast at 16 million bales, up more than 10 percent and a 13-year high, “due to a large U.S. exportable surplus.”
- Milk production will reach a record 218.7 billion pounds, USDA said, up about 1.5 percent than 2017. Domestic use is expected to increase on both a fat and skim solids basis, driven by an improved economy and lower prices, the department said. “For 2018, lower U.S. prices, a weaker dollar and global economic growth should support U.S. exports,” USDA said.
- Beef production is projected to jump 5.9 percent in 2018 from the previous year to 27.7 billion pounds, with exports reaching 3 billion pounds, up 5.7 percent. “International demand strength,” shown in 2017, “is expected to carry into 2018,” USDA said. Pork output is expected to total 5.9 billion pounds, almost 5 percent higher than the previous year. Exports are forecast to increase on lower prices and “firm global demand.”
- Broiler output is forecast to increase 2.3 percent to 42.6 billion pounds. Exports are projected to rise 2.5 percent to nearly 7 billion pounds as overseas shipments continue to recover from the disruptions caused by the 2015 avian flu outbreaks.