Larry Anton, who farms with his brother near LaPorte City in northeast Iowa, is counting his blessings with this year's corn crop. The brothers started harvesting some corn last week. "We're going to have a good crop," says Larry. The corn they've combined so far has ranged from 190 bushels per acre to 230 bushels per acre. That's dry corn -- figured on a 15% moisture content basis.
"We had a lot of rain this summer in our area, as did much of the rest of Iowa. But we didn't have those monsoon 5-inch or 7-inch rains that came in one or two days like some other areas of Iowa received. We missed the big rains but we had plenty of rain in total this year," he adds. Other farmers in other areas of Iowa weren't that fortunate. There was a lot of ponding in some fields. "Yields in Iowa will vary widely from field to field and county to county this fall," notes Anton.
The U.S. remains on track to harvest another record corn crop this fall, leaders of the National Corn Growers Association say, commenting on USDA's latest monthly crop estimate. The September USDA Crop Report, issued September 10, updated the government's August estimate by decreasing the expected yield and overall production, due to flooding and other weather-related problems that hit Iowa and some other areas this summer.
Still predicting a record U.S. corn harvest at 13.1 billion bushels
Yields of the early harvested corn in September in the Southern U.S. and in parts of the Midwest are coming in lower than USDA had estimated a month ago. Even so, if USDA's September 10 estimate is realized, this 2010 harvest will be the largest U.S. corn crop on record at 13.2 billion bushels, breaking the previous record of 13.1 billion bushels set in 2009.
"While yields probably will not set records this year, corn growers continue to set production records on their farms without a significant increase in the number of total acres in use," says NCGA president Darrin Ihnen, a corn grower at Hurley, S.D. "Growers are constantly at the mercy of the weather, but advances in biotechnology and production technologies and techniques continually to better allow us to withstand difficult conditions and produce enough corn to meet all demands - even under difficult conditions."
U.S. corn yield now expected to average 162.5 bushels per acre
Based on crop conditions as of September 1, the U.S. corn yield for 2010 is expected to average 162.5 bushels per acre, down 2.5 bushels from August's estimate and 2.2 bushels below last year's record of 164.7 bushels per acre, according to USDA's September 10 Crop Report.
The USDA's September national average yield forecast declined from August as projected yields decreased last month through much of the Corn Belt, Tennessee Valley and the Mississippi River Delta.
While harvest in the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska has not yet begun in earnest, NCGA's Ihnen characterizes the outlook in his area of South Dakota as fairly good with flooding damaging only some of the low areas of fields. NCGA first vice president Bart Schott predicts that the corn harvest this fall in his home state of North Dakota will reach or closely approach current production records.
While yields have slipped, corn is coming out of the field a lot drier
Conditions in Illinois are not looking as favorable, according to Garry Niemeyer, an NCGA board member who grows corn near the town of Auburn, Ill. With roughly 1/6 of his own corn harvest complete, Niemeyer notes that even his best acres are nearly 20 bushels below last year's yields. Pointing out the positive aspects of the 2010 harvest, he says the corn is coming out of the field a lot dryer than last fall. Niemeyer says he won't have to pay for drying the grain as he did in 2009 when the fall was wet and the corn came out of the field at high grain moisture contents and needed to be artificially dried with a grain dryer.
Also on September 10, the same day it released the Crop Report update, USDA lowered it's domestic corn use projections for 2010 by 100 million bushels. The government economists are projecting lower expected feed and residual use as higher corn prices trim livestock feeding demand for corn -- and the smaller crop size reduces the expected carryover.
Corn stocks as a percent of total use would be lowest since 1995
Projected U.S. corn exports were increased last week by 50 million bushels due to rising world demand for coarse grains, particularly corn. U.S. corn ending stocks are expected to decline to 1.1 billion bushels, down 196 million bushels from the August assessment. Should this be realized, the 2010 corn carryout at the end of August 2011 would be the lowest since 2003. Stocks as a percentage of total use would be the lowest since 1995.
The season-average U.S. farm price for corn is projected by USDA at $4.00 to $4.80 per bushel for the 2010-2011 marketing season which goes from September 1, 2010 to August 31, 2011.
USDA will issue an updated crop size report and its revised supply-and-demand projections on October 8. The current projections come as less than 10% of the 2010 corn harvest is complete in key states influenced by many of this year's weather issues such as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. "At this time, it looks like many projections may again be adjusted to factor in information gained as harvest progresses. "Possible changes include revision of harvested acreage in order to account for flooding and field ponding, adjustments to state yields and minor changes to use statistics on the 2009 and 2010 crops," says Ihnen.