A year after a historic drought punished crops, farmers faced a new threat to production in 2013: A cold, wet spring that delayed planting across the Midwest. But Farm Futures first survey of 2013 production still shows potential for record corn and soybean crops this fall.
Farmers could harvest 13.485 billion bushels of corn, according to the magazine's producer survey, which found yields of 155.9 bpa nationwide. However, the crop's potential suffered from the cold, wet spring, which cut plantings by more than 1 million acres, compared to last year. Farm Futures estimates planted acreage fell to 96.1 million, with harvested acreage down to 86.5 million. USDA estimated 2013 corn acreage at 97.4 million in its June 28 survey, with harvested acreage put at 89.1 million.
"Heavy rains washed out producers hopes in the northwest Corn Belt this spring," says Farm Futures Senior Editor Bryce Knorr, who conducted the survey. "But our survey found yields consistent with estimates made from weekly crop ratings, which still show potential for a good crop. While our estimate is lower than many in the market, it still may not do much, if anything, for prices."
Farm Futures Market Analyst Paul Burgener agrees. "Our survey shows a little smaller corn crop, but 13.5 billion bushels remains a big crop to move through a system with reduced demand after last year," says Burgener. "Carryout could double, sending prices much lower this year unless weather lowers yields."
Some, but not much, of the lost corn ground was switched to soybeans. The survey found soybean seedings of 77.9 million acres, up 1% from last year. However, wet conditions may also be taking a toll on soybeans. The survey found farmers expect to harvest 1% less ground than last year, though yields could improve to 44.14 bpa, producing a record crop of 3.369 billion bushels.
"The soybean crop looks to be larger than last year, and double the carryout is in the cards," says Burgener. "But there is little room for lower yields. Only a small change could mean another extremely tight year."
Farm Futures surveyed more than 1,350 farmers by email July 22 to August 5. USDA on Aug. 12 makes its first production estimates based on in-field reports and surveys with farmers. The agency is also expected to update its estimate of soybean plantings in areas affected by wet conditions this spring.