Farmers in Iowa and most of the western Corn Belt are harvesting near record amounts of corn and soybeans this fall, although USDA lowered its overall estimate of U.S. production in its latest monthly crop forecast, issued October 9. Based on early October conditions, USDA is now forecasting a 13.6 billion bushel U.S. corn crop for 2015, a decline of less than 1% from its September forecast. Soybean production is estimated at 3.89 billion bushels, down 1% from September.
If these estimates hold true, the nation's corn crop that is now being harvested will be the third-largest in U.S. history and the soybean crop will be second-largest.
For Iowa, the USDA is now estimating farmers will harvest a record 2.42 billion bushels of corn this fall, up 8.3 billion bushels from the September estimate due to an increase in yield. Soybeans will be the second largest crop ever in Iowa, at 520.5 million bushels, a decline of 5.3 million bushels as fewer acres are expected to be harvested.
USDA forecasting $3.80 per bushel corn, $9.15 soybeans
"It took until the October reports, but USDA has adjusted its U.S. crop acreage estimates for corn and soybeans down," notes Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension grain marketing economist. "Corn area was reduced by a half of a million acres. Soybeans lost 1.1 million acres. These moves more than offset the slight yield bump USDA is projecting. The national corn yield estimate was raised a half of a bushel to 168 bushels per acre. The national soybean yield estimate increased a tenth of a bushel to 47.2 bushels per acre. National corn production was lowered by 30 million bushels; national soybean production was reduced by 47 million bushels."
There were no adjustments made by USDA economists to new crop corn demand. "So the drop in production led to a slight increase in USDA's projection for the marketing year average price," says Hart. "The midpoint of their price range forecast now sits at $3.80 per bushel for corn, up 5 cents from last month. New crop soybean demand took a hit though. While the domestic crush estimate was increased 10 million bushels by USDA, soybean exports were dropped by 50 million bushels. And USDA held firm on their soybean marketing year price range forecast for the 2015 crop, with the midpoint remaining at $9.15 per bushel."
Iowa corn crop estimated to be 2% above last year
Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.42 billion bushels, 2% above the 2014 production and slightly above the September forecast, according to the latest USDA crop production report. If realized, Iowa's harvested corn production this fall will be record high, breaking the previous record set in 2009 by 8.3 million bushels.
Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 183 bushels per acre, an increase of 5 bushels per acre from last year. If realized, this Iowa yield average will also set a new high, exceeding the previous record of 181 set in 2004 and tied in 2009. Acres planted and harvested for grain, at 13.6 million and 13.2 million acres, respectively, are down 100,000 acres from the September estimate.
Iowa is harvesting 4% more soybeans than in 2014
Iowa soybean production in 2015 is forecast at 520 million bushels, up 4% from 2014, but 1% below the September forecast. If realized, this will be the second largest soybean production on record for Iowa, 1% less than the 525 million bushels produced in 2005. The October forecast yield is 53 bushels per acre, 2.0 bushels above 2014 but unchanged from the September forecast. If realized this will be the highest soybean yield on record for Iowa, 0.5 bushel above the previous record set in 2005. Area planted and harvested, at 9.90 million and 9.82 million acres, respectively, are up 50,000 acres from 2014, but down 100,000 from the September forecast.
Iowa 2015 hay production estimated at 1% above 2014
Iowa's average hay yield for alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures is expected to be 3.60 tons per acre with a total production of 2.95 million tons in 2015, a production increase of 1% from the previous year. The projected yield for other hay is 2.10 tons per acre, with production at 725,000 tons, down 4% from 2014.
All crop forecasts in USDA's October crop production report are based on October 1 conditions and do not reflect weather effects since that time. The next USDA production forecasts, based on conditions as of November 1, will be released November 10.