U.S. farmers are getting ready to harvest big corn and soybean crops, but Farm Futures latest survey of growers showed production may not be as huge as some in the industry predict.
The survey estimates the corn crop at 14.59 billion bushels. That would be a record, though the average U.S. yield of 168.6 bpa would fall short of the mark set in 2014.
Soybean production of 3.865 billion bushels would be the third biggest, with average yields of 46.65 bpa also not setting a new record.
USDA weighs in with its much-anticipated estimates Aug. 12, which are based on the agency’s first survey of growers and their fields. Farm Futures surveyed 1,225 producers, the largest private canvass of farmers in the industry.
Farmers recorded their data in an online survey tool July 18 to Aug. 3, after receiving an email invitation. With a month or more of the growing season left to play out, that could change yield estimates into the fall, says Farm Futures Senior Grain Market Analyst Bryce Knorr, who conducts the research.
“Soybean yields are always hard to predict this early in the growing season,” Knorr said. “The corn numbers are also up in the air, perhaps more than usual this year. Many farmers have noted the potential impact of warm summer nights in our Feedback From The Field feature, and rainfall was also highly variable in July. Some parts of the Midwest got very little, while other fields were flooded with 15 to 20 inches or more.”
“Another factor causing uncertainty this year are the high ratings put out Mondays in USDA’s weekly Crop Progress reports. These conditions suggest much higher yields, perhaps 175 bpa or more on corn, and 49 bpa for soybeans.”
“Soybean yields could indeed be higher if the growing season ends warm and wet as forecast. But the best prospect for higher corn yields may come if harvested acreage winds up significantly less than USDA found in its June 30 survey, as our survey also suggests. That might result in higher yields, though the corn crop would stay the same size.”
Knorr said the survey indicated soybeans have the best bet at rallies into the end of summer, though the corn estimate could also help set a floor in the corn market.
“It appears we’ll start the 2016 marketing year Sept. 1 with around 50 million bushels fewer soybeans than the government last reported, thanks to strong exports and crush,” Knorr said. “That lower carry-in and a crop of less than 3.9 billion bushels could keep ending stocks a year from now around 300 million bushels, with average cash prices around $10 for the crop.”
“The outlook for corn isn’t nearly as bright, at least in the short term. Stocks could grow modestly in the coming year, but still stay above 2 billion bushels. Average cash prices could run around $3 a bushel, a level already broken around the country.”