Analyst Predicts Lower Harvested Corn Acres

Merrill Lynch report notes that final numbers could be even lower than currently forecast.

All eyes are going to be on those USDA harvested acre reports in the coming months, and at least one analyst believes the numbers will be lower than USDA predicts. The Merrill Lynch analyst, in a report issued earlier this week, notes that in examining previous years of extremely wet weather, harvested acreage usually falls well below the normal 91.5% of planted acreage due to poor crop quality.

This is different from USDA projections, which assume harvested acreage at 91.6% of planted acreage, which is currently estimated at 86 million acres. The "benchmark" year for a lot of this analysis is the flood year 1993. The analyst notes that harvested acreage that year was only 85.9%.

A shortfall of that magnitude would cut harvested acres by 5 million, which would effectively wipe out USDA's projection for the 2008/2009 ending corn inventories of 673 million bushels.

In his daily market commentary on Thursday, Farm Futures Market Analyst Arlan Suderman says that based on the data available now, USDA could reduced its planted acreage estimate to 84 million acres in the June 30 report, down fro 86 million acres on March 31, with the final acreage estimate next winter at 82.8 million acres. These estimates are consist with an online poll the magazine conducted that showed more than 3.3 million acres may have been lost. The percent of crop harvested for grain has increased as acres and prices rose in recent years, so it's possible to assume an 87.8% harvested rate, versus the five-year average of 91.1%, Suderman says. That would by 72.7 million acres harvested.

At the 148-bushel yield currently estimated, that produces a 10.76 billion bushel crop. USDA estimated exactly 2 billion bushels more than that in the June 10 report.

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