corn cobs on corn stalks
BIG CROP: Based on field conditions around Oct. 1, Iowa is forecast to harvest its second largest-ever corn crop this fall.

Is Iowa’s corn yield average really a record?

USDA’s latest estimate says Iowa is harvesting a record statewide corn yield this fall.

USDA’s October Crop Production Report issued Oct. 11 brought some surprises on the estimated size of this fall’s corn and soybean harvests in Iowa. Many farmers are skeptical, as they believe the government’s numbers for estimated yield and crop size are too high, considering the wetter-than-normal weather and rain-delayed harvest across Iowa this fall.

“The October estimate for both corn and soybeans is based on crop conditions on or around Oct. 1,” says Greg Thessen, director of USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service office in Des Moines. “And we’ve had continued rain across much of the state since the beginning of October, keeping combines out of the fields for the most parts.”

He says it’s understandable why farmers may be skeptical of these latest official estimates. They will be updated with the November survey.

Iowa corn crop big again
Iowa corn production is now forecast at 2.60 billion bushels for 2018, close to the 2.61 billion bushels the state produced in 2017. Iowa’s record corn crop was produced in 2016, at just over 2.7 billion bushels.

Iowa is expected to average 204 bushels per acre this year based on the October estimate, down 2 bushels per acre from USDA’s Sept. 1 forecast, but up 2 bushels per acre from last year. If realized, this will be the highest statewide average yield on record for Iowa, 1 bushel per acre above the record set in 2016.

Corn planted acreage is estimated at 13.2 million acres in 2018. An estimated 12.8 million of the acres planted will be harvested for grain.

Iowa soybeans forecast record-large
Soybean production is forecast by USDA at 606 million bushels for Iowa this fall. If realized, this will be the highest production on record with 39.8 million bushels more than the previous record of 567 million bushels set in 2017. The average yield for Iowa is forecast at 61 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel per acre from USDA’s September forecast, and 4 bushels per acre higher than the state average in 2017.

If realized, this 61 bushels per acre will be the highest statewide yield average on record for Iowa, surpassing the 60 bushels per acre in 2016. Soybean planted acreage in Iowa in 2018 is estimated at 10 million acres with 9.94 million acres to be harvested.

Iowa alfalfa hay production up
Production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures for hay is forecast at 3.15 million tons for 2018, an increase of 25% from the previous year. Yield is expected to average 3.80 tons per acre, up 0.30 ton from last year. Production of other hay is forecast at 888,000 tons, up 7% from last year. Yield for other hay is expected to average 2.40 tons per acre, up 0.10 ton from last year.

“The forecasts in this report are based on Oct. 1 conditions and do not reflect weather effects since that time,” Thessen says. “The next USDA corn and soybean production forecasts, based on conditions as of Nov. 1, will be released on Nov. 8.”

USDA has an update in this October report. Following a thorough review of all data, the 2017 soybean yield and production have been revised for Iowa. The 2017 yield, at 57.0 bushels per acre, is up 0.5 bushels from the previous estimate. Production for 2017 has been revised to 567 million bushels, up 4.97 million bushels from the previous estimate. Updated 2017 district and county estimates will be available in February 2019.

District corn, soybean estimates for 2018
Comparing the state’s nine crop reporting districts, east-central Iowa is expected to have the highest corn yield average this year, says the USDA report. East-central Iowa is also expected to harvest the highest average soybean yield, as the accompanying maps show.

Corn yield, bushels per acre, Oct. 1 
(State average, 204 bu./acre)

Soybean yield, bushels per acre, Oct. 1
(State average, 61 bu./acre)

The corn forecast for yield based on USDA’s October estimate is down in six Iowa districts from the Sept. 1 forecast. East-central Iowa is anticipated to have the highest yield in the state, with 222 bushels per acre as the district average. The largest total corn production is expected in west-central Iowa, at 393 million bushels this year.

The soybean average yield based on Oct. 1 conditions is forecast to be up in seven Iowa crop reporting districts from the Sept.1 forecast. East-central Iowa is expected to have the highest yield in the state, with 66 bushels per acre for the district average. The largest total production is expected in west-central Iowa, at 96.2 million bushels.

The next district corn and soybean production forecasts, based on conditions as of Nov. 1, will be released by USDA on Nov. 8. Updated 2017 district and county estimates will be available in February.

TAGS: Corn Soybean
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