USDA's November crop production estimate, released November 10, shows a record U.S. corn crop and a record soybean crop being harvested this fall. Compared to its October estimate, USDA increased its forecast for this year's soybean crop to a record 3.98 billion bushels, an increase of 31 million bushels. The November report indicates a slight uptick in the national average yield to 47.5 bushels per acre.
While it's still the largest ever corn crop for the U.S., the November estimate of 14.4 billion bushels of corn for 2014 is a lower estimate than the 14.475 billion bushels predicted in October. This year's 14.4 billion bushel crop is still an all-time high, but the revision from October to November surprised many market analysts who had anticipated an even bigger supply.
Large supply, low prices make farmers strong holders
The reduced corn production estimate in November bucks a recent trend in which USDA has increased its monthly forecast for corn and soybeans following timely rains and nearly ideal temperatures that have pushed yields for both crops to record highs nationally this year. The abundant supply has pushed prices down to their lowest levels in years, sharply reducing corn costs for ethanol plants and livestock farmers, while making it difficult for corn and soybean farmers to cover their production costs.
Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension grain economist, says the low harvest-time prices are causing many farmers to hold corn and beans in storage rather than send them to market now. "Farmers are holding and hoping for a price rebound in the future," notes Hart. "The price is at or below the cost of production, causing farmers to not want to sell their crop at this point in time."
USDA didn't give a reason in its November 10 Crop Report, as to why the corn crop declined from October to November, but analysts say excessive rain and wet fields earlier this summer in Iowa and Minnesota kept big ears from developing.
Iowa corn yield cut from 185 bu. per acre, down to 183 bushels
Greg Thessen, in charge of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service office in Des Moines, and who directs the NASS survey in Iowa, notes that despite Iowa's average corn yield estimate being adjusted downward slightly from October to November, the state is still expected to harvest a record corn crop this year.
Iowa corn production is estimated at a record high 2.42 billion bushels in 2014, according to USDA's November Crop Production report. USDA had forecasted 2.442 billion bushels for Iowa in October.
The previous record of 2.41 billion bushels for Iowa was set in 2009. Based on conditions as of Nov. 1, corn yields in Iowa this year are averaging 183 bushels per acre, a rise of 18 bushels per acre from last year, but down 2 bushels from USDA's October forecast. USDA will issue its final estimate on the size and yields of the 2014 corn and soybean crops in January.
Corn crop this year is estimated largest ever in Iowa
If realized, the 183 bushel per acre average would be the highest on record for Iowa, 2 bushels above the previous high set in 2004 and tied for 2009. Corn planted acreage in 2014 is estimated at 13.6 million acres. An estimated 13.2 million acres will be harvested for grain, a 1% increase from 2013.
Based on USDA's November estimates, production and yield is up from 2013 in all Iowa crop reporting districts. The central, south central and southeast districts are forecast to have record yields. Southeast Iowa is forecast to have the highest average yield in the state, at 197 bushels per acre. The lowest average yield is forecast in the North Central district, at 174 bushels per acre. Record high production is forecast for South Central and Southeast districts, while West Central Iowa is forecast to have the largest production in the state, with 382 million bushels.
Iowa soybean crop is up 22% in 2014 versus 2013 crop
Iowa soybean production in 2014 is forecast at 514 million bushels, a 22% increase from the previous year. If realized, this would be the second largest soybean crop on record for Iowa, 2% less than the record 525 million bushels set in 2005.
The November 1 yield forecast of 52.0 bushels per acre is up 6.5 bushels from 2013, and 1 bushel above the October forecast. This yield, if realized, would tie 2007 as the second highest yield on record, and would be only 0.5 bushel per acre under the record set in 2005. Soybean planted acreage is estimated at 9.95 million acres with 9.89 million acres to be harvested.
Soybean production, yield up from last year in all districts
Soybean production and yield are up from 2013 in all Iowa crop reporting districts. Northwest Iowa is forecast to have the highest average yield in 2014, at 55.0 bushels per acre, followed by West Central Iowa at 53.0 bushels. Northwest Iowa is forecast to have the largest production, with 86.2 million bushels. Record high production is estimated for the West Central, Southwest, South Central, and Southeast districts.
"Keep in mind that all crop forecasts in this report are based on November 1 conditions and do not reflect weather effects since that time," notes Thessen. "And, note that the final estimates for 2014 crops will be released in January 2015."