USDA Officials Fend Off Report Criticism


Table of Contents:

  • USDA should have identified lower crop yields earlier in the growing season
  • USDA relies on both objective yield surveys and farmer surveys to reach a yield estimate
  • Poor quality of 2009 corn crop may have played a role in the large stocks swings

Attendees also questioned the wide swing in corn stocks indicated by USDA’s June 30 and Sept. 30 Quarterly Grain Stocks Reports.

USDA’s estimate of June 1 corn stocks was nearly 300 million bushels below the average of trade expectations, which helped set off the summer rally in corn prices, but the September 1 stocks number came in about 300 million bushels above the average of trade estimates.

USDA officials said the poor quality of the 2009 corn crop may have played a role in the large stocks swings.

Gerald Bange, who is part of USDA's World Agricultural Outlook Board, said the June estimate may have come in below expectations because much of last year's corn crop was went into storage with unusually high moisture content and naturally shrunk.

For that reason, farmers who reported the size of their crop to USDA based on the volume of their storage bins at harvest may have overestimated the true size of the crop. "That is a potential issue," Prusacki said. "That's a question, that's something we need to look at."

Prusacki rejected speculation from analysts that the big Sept. 1 stocks number reflected commingling of early-harvested grain from the 2010 crop with 2009 stocks. "We asked specifically about old-crop corn, old-crop soybeans from the 2009 crop year, or earlier," he said.

Prusacki also noted the Sept. 30 stocks figure was heavily weighted toward off-farm storage, a factor that he said argued against the idea that new-crop corn had been counted.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

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