Weather grows blue ribbon crops in Minnesota
GILFILLAN, Minn. - Weather conditions have been about as close to perfect across most of Minnesota as possible. This has put the state's corn crop in 87 percent good to excellent condition according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The only...
GILFILLAN, Minn. — Weather conditions have been about as close to perfect across most of Minnesota as possible.
This has put the state's corn crop in 87 percent good to excellent condition according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The only other year crops have performed similarly, 2010, was a record state average yield year with 177 bushels per acre.
If conditions hold, University of Minnesota Grain Marketing Specialist Ed Usset said the state could have an average corn yield in the mid-180s, with an outside chance of an average over 190. Usset and University of Minnesota Climatologist and Meteorologist Mark Seeley spoke on weather and grain marketing Aug. 6 at Farmfest.
"I've been arguing that Minnesota might be the blue ribbon state for crop conditions this year," Seeley said.
At 87 percent good to excellent, Minnesota had the best looking corn crop in the Corn Belt. Other top crops in the western Corn Belt are in Nebraska, with an 85 percent good to excellent crop, and Iowa, with 83 percent.
It's really been the tale of two Corn Belts this year, with conditions much more favorable in the west than the east, Usset said. In Illinois, 56 percent of the corn crop is in good to excellent condition. Indiana's crop rolls in at 47 percent, while Ohio is at 46 percent good to excellent.
Crop conditions in Minnesota were aided by the right weather at the right time, Seeley said. Conditions were ideal for timely field work for the first time in three years. Warm nights during June helped with growing degree days. Though the soil started out dry, with 90 percent of Minnesota under one level of drought or another going into May, rain throughout that month eradicated the dryness problem for most of the state and helped recharge soil moisture stores.
"It started out a little shaky, but this has played out to be a very good (growing season) indeed," Seeley said.
On the marketing side of things, it's been a frustrating summer, Usset said.
Corn prices rallied briefly, but then backtracked.
"Deteriorative conditions in the eastern Corn Belt quit deteriorating," Usset said. "It was nice to have that volatility. I thought it would stick around."
Commodity prices on the whole, not just for grain, are on their way down, including for natural gas, minerals and other commodities, Usset said.
Last year, corn prices bottomed out around $3.21 per bushel, Usset said. He doesn't expect things to be worse than that, though anything can happen. The number can help give growers a sense of the worst things might be to make some plans.
Those with any corn sitting in a bin to sell should take advantage of any rally in the market now.
"If you've got grain, you've got to put a number on it," Usset said. "You're in a very defensive position if you've got grain left. Sometimes marketing decisions are about minimizing losses."
Soybean growing conditions have been favorable in Minnesota so far, with USDA reporting 81 percent of the crop in Minnesota in good to excellent condition. Iowa's crop isn't far behind at 79 percent and Nebraska's crop is 73 percent good to excellent. The eastern Corn Belt soybean crop has been suffering as the corn has, with Illinois soybeans at 54 percent and Indiana and Ohio's at 43 percent. Usset expects soybean stocks will rise sharply with this harvest.
Based on current conditions, Usset expects a national corn yield average around 160 bushels per acre. While the number may seem low compared to last year's record high of 171 bushels it's not very low in the grand scheme of things.
"It sets the stage for a better rally after harvest," Usset said.
He was careful to caution, though, that it's unlikely prices will return to where they were two years ago anytime soon. Why? Demand is steady and growing slowly, but supply has finally caught up to the demand ethanol generated. There would need to be a big supply problem somewhere in the United States or abroad to really rock prices.
"I think that's the mode we're going to be in for the next couple years," Usset said.