Iowa Corn Grower Association leaders say this month's USDA Crop Production Report proves their point that there will be enough corn to meet demand. The report issued August 12 forecasts that the nation's farmers will harvest the second largest U.S. corn crop in history. Iowa farmers in 2008 are expected to harvest the third largest Iowa corn crop ever.
Flooding in the Midwest in May and June prompted concerns from livestock producers, food manufacturing companies and consumers about having enough corn to supply the market for livestock, ethanol, exports and other markets. The August Crop Report is the first USDA crop report of the growing season based on actual in the field estimates of yield and production.
Iowa on track to produce third largest crop
"This has been a rough year for many growers," says Tim Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Arlington. "The good news is that all our hard work seems to be paying off as we near harvest. Despite all the challenges, we're looking at good yields and strong production here in Iowa."
USDA forecasts a 12.3 billion bushel corn crop and U.S. yield of 155 bushels per acre, up 3.9 bushels per acre from last year. If realized the 2008 U.S. corn crop would be 6% smaller than 2007's record-breaking production but 17% larger than the 2006 crop. The 79.3 million harvested acres projected for 2008 is based on a special effort by USDA which re-interviewed farmers and measured fields after the June flooding to get a better idea of the total amount of acres harvested.
For Iowa, the USDA report projects a corn crop of 2.2 billion bushels, reflecting 12.9 million harvested acres and an average yield of 171 bushels per acre, the same yield Iowa had last year. Despite late plantings and floods, Iowa will almost certainly retain its position as the top corn-producing state in the nation.
Iowa's 2008 corn has excellent pollination
Judy Bodholdt, an ICGA director from Newell in northwest Iowa, says her 2008 corn will be "a great crop to harvest." Referring to the ethanol and livestock production in her area, Bodholdt says the growing demand for corn "is a constant reality and we're going to meet that demand."
Julius Schaaf, chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), notes that the new production numbers indicate the U.S. will have increasing corn supplies on hand going into the 2008/09 marketing year which begins September 1. The current crop has had excellent weather for pollination, according to Schaaf, a southwest Iowan. He says the biggest remaining concern for this growing season in Iowa is the possibility of an early frost.
Schaaf in southwest Iowa, Recker in northeast Iowa and other corn grower leaders, including Bodholdt in northwest Iowa and Warren Kemper in southeast Iowa, say corn on well-drained ground and corn on upland areas generally looks good. Schaaf, who had flooding in his area, says the corn on the low ground has suffered this year.
Kemper is from Wapello, close to the southeast Iowa area where many farms and fields were hit by severe flooding in June. Kemper says his fields look good. However, 10 miles from him corn was planted two to three weeks behind schedule. "The possibility of an early frost is becoming a concern with corn development behind schedule. These replanted fields and late planted fields in Iowa will need a later than normal date for the first killing frost this fall," he notes.
U.S. to produce fourth largest soybean crop
For soybeans, USDA's August 12 Crop Report also indicates that spring flooding did not do as much damage to the nation's soybean crop as analysts expected. U.S. farmers are on pace to produce the fourth largest soybean crop in history.
Soybean production in the U.S. is projected at 2.97 billion bushels, up 15% from last year. Nationally, soybean yields are expected to average 40.5 bushels per acre, down 0.7 bushels from 2007. Iowa soybeans are projected to yield 47 bushels per acre, down from 51.5 bushels per acre last year, for a total 2008 production of 437 million bushels.
Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, responded to the report by saying, "We are encouraged by these numbers. Given the strong domestic demand for soybean meal to feed livestock along with soybean oil for biodiesel, we need a good soybean crop like this. In addition, we have record exports. Every bushel is critically important as we are committed to continue to provide high quality soybeans and soy products to our global customers."
Iowa likely top producer of corn and beans
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey also commented on the USDA August 12 Crop Report. "Despite the weather challenges in 2008, Iowa is still projected to be the top producer of both corn and soybeans again this year," says Northey.
"To reach those yield numbers we will need to continue to have good growing season weather and probably a later than normal frost this fall," he says. "The projected size of the crop following the severe weather it endured this year is a testament to the quality of our farmers, the fertility of our soil and the great advancements that have been made in seed technology."