The 2008 June 30 USDA Acreage and Grain Stocks Report was much more anticipated than normal, given the very tight grain supply in the U.S. and the recent strong corn and soybean prices. Interestingly, the June 1 report showed total 2008 planted corn acres in the U.S. at 87.3 million acres, which is 2 million acres higher than the average estimates of the grain traders, and 1.3 million acres higher than the March 1 planting intentions. However, 2008 planted corn acres are still 7% lower than 2007 planted corn acres. The USDA report listed 2008 planted soybean acres at 74.5 million acres, and planted wheat acres at 63.5 million acres, which are both down slightly from the March 1 planting intentions.

The interesting part of the June 30 USDA report was the large increase in planted corn acreage for 2008, given the significant planting delays in much of the Midwest, and the severe flooding in Iowa, Illinois, and other States. It should be noted that the June 30 USDA report is based on crop conditions on June 1, and the planted acreage does not reflect harvested corn acreage. USDA did a secondary crop survey in late June to determine preliminary changes in harvested corn acreage for 2008. Based on those results, it would appear that an estimated 90.4% of corn acres will be harvested for grain in 2008, compared to a normal of 92.4% of corn acres, obviously reflecting the floods and excessive rainfall in many areas of the Midwest in early June. Similarly, based on the late June crop survey, the percent of planted soybean acreage to be harvested for 2008 was listed at 96.8%, compared to a normal of 98.7%.

Most of the adjustments in harvested corn and soybean acreage are in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. The overall U.S. production impact from the reduction in harvested corn and soybean acres could be more significant, since most of the lost crop acres are in some of the best corn and soybean producing areas in the World. The August USDA Crop Production Report should provide a better analysis of the impacts of 2008 crop losses from flooding and excessive rainfall in May and early June.

Knee–High By July 4TH
For generations, the standard measure for corn growth was “knee-high by July 4th”, which meant that the corn plant should be able to produce a crop for that year. Of course, most farmers a generation or two ago had much lower yield goals for their corn than the farmers of today. In recent years, “waist-high” or highercorn by July 4th has been more typical, and has resulted in some very good corn yields in most areas in recent years. It would be difficult to get exceptional corn yields in Southern Minnesota if corn is only “knee-high” or smaller on July 4th. The 2008 crop year has been more of a struggle than recent years from a weather standpoint, meaning that some corn in Minnesota and Iowa may just barely reach “knee-high” by July 4th. However, favorable growing conditions in late June, has allowed some corn in Southern Minnesota and parts of North central Iowa to be over “waist-high” by July 4th.

Most of the 2008 corn and soybean crop started out well behind corn development due to wet, cool weather in May and early June that delayed planting in many areas, and slowed the early crop growth. However, normal to above normal temperatures and accumulation of growing degree units (GDU’s) in the last half of June has greatly improved crop development in many areas. At the Southern Minnesota Research Center a total of 775 GDU’s had been accumulated since May 1, 2008, which is about 11% behind normal, and 23% behind the excellent growing conditions that existed in 2007. June rainfalls have been quite variable across the region, with areas of Southeast Minnesota and large portion of Iowa receiving excessive rainfall that led to flooding and crop loss, while other areas of Southern Minnesota received very normal rainfall for June. %