The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing for what they predict to be the nation’s largest corn crop in history and third largest soybean crop just one year after a drought that devastated crops. In the USDA’s annual August crop production report, the statistics projected a national corn crop of 13.8 billion bushels on 154.4 bushels per acre, 28 percent higher than last year’s 10.7 billion bushels. The previous record was set in 2009 with 13.09 billion bushels.
Meanwhile, soybeans are projected at 3.26 billion bushels, yielding around 42.6 bushels per acre – an 8 percent increase over last year’s three billion bushel crop. The drought reduced last year’s corn harvest to its lowest level since 10 million bushels in 2003, and the average bushels per acre was the lowest since 113.5 in 1995.
Purdue University Ag and Natural Resources Educator Chad Rushing said this year’s unprecedented corn yield predictions are due to favorable weather and crop conditions.
“What their prediction is based on is kind of the weather conditions and crop conditions, and basically what it’s telling us is that the weather conditions have been favorable for the corn and soybeans to maximize their genetic potential, which is going to lead to those higher yields,” Rushing said.
He explained that crops have a maximum yield potential each year but the weather determines how close the crops come to that amount. This year’s favorable conditions, he said, may lead yields very close to that maximum yield number.
Rushing said these yields will have an impact on commodity prices and could also affect profits – but he expects gross incomes of farmers to be roughly the same as last year, despite the increase in harvesting time caused by the higher yields.
“The one apparent effect that these predicted yields have is going to be, at first, on commodity prices. So we’ve seen a substantial drop in corn prices in particular in relation to expected supply. Last year with the drought, had poor yields pretty much across the corn belt, and so supply was down and that’s why we saw prices for corn that were over $7 a bushel. Now, we’re looking at yields that could be double that of last year,” said Rushing.
With double the corn on the market, and no changes in demand, Rushing said the prices will drop. Fortunately, income should stay stable at farms.
Rushing said this shouldn’t be a temporary thing – again, depending on the weather – because with the increasing quality of genetics, these potential yields should increase year after year.
“Genetics keep getting better and better, so we should continue to see increasing yields, but those, again, are dependent on the weather – is it going to be hot and dry, are we not going to have any rain – then you’re still going to see poor yields,” he said.