There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the Aug. 12 USDA Crop Report, but a very “bearish” report resulted in a decline of nearly 50-cents per bushel in the December corn futures price from Aug. 9 to Aug. 19.

Most of the Eastern Corn Belt, as well as portions of the Western Corn Belt, had very late planting dates iand have continued to struggle with challenging crop conditions. More favorable growing conditions in some areas during July increased this year's yield expectations.

On Aug. 12, the USDA Farm Service Agency also released the initial listing of prevented planted acres, totaling over 19 million acres, which has created many questions regarding the actual total planted acres of corn and soybeans that were used in the USDA crop report.

The crop report estimated total corn production at 13.9 billion bushels, a 4% decrease from 2018. The USDA is estimating harvested corn acreage at 82 million acres, down 1.6 million acres from the July estimate, and compares to 81.7 million acres in last year.

The lreport projects the national average yield at 169.5 bushels per acre, an increase from the July estimate of 166 bushels per acre. If achieved, the yield would compare to 176.4 bushels per acre in 2018, 176.6 bushels in 2017, 174.6 bushels in 2016, and 168.4 bushels in 2015.

Many private grain marketing analysts question the USDA corn yield increase in the August report, considering the struggles in the Eastern Corn Belt and that weekly USDA crop progress reports have not shown significant improvement in the corn crop ratings.

The USDA estimates Minnesota’s average corn yield at 173 bushels per acre, well below the 2018 yield of 182 bushels per acre and record yield of 194 bushels per acre in 2017. 

Estimates for other states are:

• Illinois at 181 bushels per acre, compared to 210 bushels in last year;

• Indiana at 166 bushels per acre, compared to 189 bushels last year;

• Nebraska at 186 bushels per acre, compared to 192 bushels last year;

• South Dakota at 157 bushels per acre, compared to 160 bushels last year;

• North Dakota at 146 bushels per acre, compared to 153 bushels last year;

• Wisconsin at 165 bushels per acre, compared to 172 bushels last year.

The report estimated total soybean production at 3.68 billion bushels, a decrease of 19 percent from last year's record production of 4.54 billion bushels, and total acreage at 75.9 million acres, which compares to 88.1 million acres last year.

The projected average soybean yield is 48.5 bushels per acre, unchanged from July.

Minnesota’s average soybean yield is estimated at 45 bushels per acre, compared to 48 bushels in 2018 and the record yield of 52.5 bushels in 2016. Iowa is projected to have a yield of 55 bushels per acre, compared to 57 bushels last year and the record of 60.5 bushels set in 2016.

Other projected yields include:

• Illinois at 55 bushels per acre, compared to 65 bushels last year;

• Indiana at 50 bushels per acre, compared to 58.5 bushels last year;

• Nebraska at 58 bushels per acre, compared to 59 bushels last year;

• South Dakota at 45 bushels per acre, compared to 46 bushels last year;

• North Dakota at 35 bushels per acre, compared to 35.5 bushels last year;

• Wisconsin at 47 bushels per acre, compared 49 bushels last year.

Total soybean acres in Minnesota, North and South Dakota is estimated at 15.9 million acres, down considerably from more than 20 million acres in 2018.

WASDE report

The updated USDA World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) also were released on Aug. 12. 

The 2019-20 corn ending stocks are now estimated at nearly 2.2 billion bushels, compared to ending stocks of 2.36 billion bushels in 2018-19.

The report showed a slight decrease in expected corn usage for ethanol production 2019-20, while projecting a more significant decrease in corn exports for 2019-20 marketing year. 

WASDE's projected average on-farm corn price for the 2019-20 marketing year (Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2020) is $3.60 per bushel, a decline from the $3.70 per bushel estimate in July. The 2018-19 national average corn price, which will be finalized on Sept. 30, is now estimated at $3.60 per bushel, which compares to national average prices of $3.36 per bushel in both 2017-18 and 2016-17, and $3.61 per bushel for 2015-16.

For soybeans, WASDE lowered the estimated export level from the July estimate and left the 2019-20 soybean crush levels unchanged. This would result in estimated 2019-20 soybean stocks at 755 million bushels, a significant decline from the projected ending stocks of 1.07 billion bushels for 2018-19. However, that is still well above the 2017-18 soybean ending stocks of 430 million bushels.

The projected average on-farm soybean price for the 2019-20 marketing year is $8.40 per bushel, unchanged from the July estimate. 

Kent Thiesse is a farm management analyst and senior vice president at MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minn.

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