Due to the severe drought affecting much of the major corn- and soybean-producing areas of the United States, the Aug. 10 USDA crop report was very highly anticipated. A large percentage of the primary crop-growing areas in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas are in severe to extreme drought conditions, with major reductions in crop yields. Portions of Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Ohio and southern Minnesota have also experienced some drought conditions. The USDA crop estimates were based on crop conditions as of Aug. 1, and the USDA crop report verified the severity of the 2012 drought.
The report issued on Aug. 10 estimated the 2012 total U.S. corn production to be 10.8 billion bushels, which would be the smallest total production since 2006. This compares to a total corn production of 12.3 billion bushels in 2011, and 13.1 billion bushels in 2009. Based on Aug. 1 conditions, USDA is estimating total harvested corn acreage in the U.S. for 2012 at 87.4 million acres, which is down 2% from June 1 estimates, but is still 4% above the 2011 level of nearly 84 million harvested corn acres. Some experts feel that the total number of harvested corn acres in 2012 may decline even further as more corn acres become abandoned due to the extreme drought conditions in some areas.
In the report, USDA projected a 2012 national average corn yield of 123.4 bu./acre, which would be the lowest national average corn yield since 1995. The national average corn yield was 147.2 bu. in 2011 and 152.8 bu. in 2010. Earlier this year, before the onset of the dramatic drought conditions, USDA had estimated a national average corn yield as high as 166 bu./acre, and total U.S. corn production at 14.7 billion bushels. The projected corn yield in the August report was lowered by 15%, or 22.6 bu./acre, compared to the July report, due to the rapidly deteriorating crop conditions resulting from the drought. Some experts feel that the national average corn yield could drop even lower, once harvest is completed.
Minnesota is the only major corn-producing state in the U.S. that is projected to have an average 2012 corn yield above 150 bu./acre. Minnesota’s average corn yield for 2012 is pegged at 155 bu. by USDA, which almost the same as the final 2011 average corn yield of 156 bu., but is well below the record average corn yield in Minnesota of 177 bu./acre in 2010, or the 174 bu. in 2009. Minnesota is being heavily counted on to help stabilize the final national corn yield.
USDA is now projecting Iowa’s 2012 average corn yield at 141 bu./acre, which compares to 172 bu. in 2011 and 165 bu. in 2010. The 2012 USDA corn yield estimates for the other major corn-producing states are Illinois at 116 bu., compared to 157 bu. in 2011; Indiana at 100 bu., compared to 146 bu. in 2011; and Nebraska at 147 bu., compared to 160 bu. in 2011. A couple of other states to note include South Dakota with a projected 2012 average corn yield of 98 bu./acre, compared to 132 bu. in 2011, and Wisconsin with an estimated 2012 corn yield of 132 bu., compared to 156 bu. in 2011. It should be noted that in many states the 2011 yields were also reduced to below trend line yields, due to very dry conditions late in the growing season.
The USDA report on Aug. 10 also indicated a much lower level of soybean production in the U.S. in 2012, compared to 2011 production levels. USDA is estimating 2012 total U.S. soybean production at 2.69 billion bushels, which is approximately 12% below the 2011 total soybean production of 3.06 billion bushels. The 2011 total production was 8% below 2010 total U.S. soybean production levels. USDA is now estimating total 2012 harvested soybean acreage at 74.6 million acres, which is up from 73.6 million acres in 2011.
The U.S. average soybean yield for 2012 is estimated at 36.1 bu./acre, down from 41.5 bu. in 2011 and well below the record U.S. soybean yield of 44.0 bu. in 2009. If realized, the 2012 national average soybean yield would be the lowest since 2003, which will put a considerable strain on available soybean stocks in the U.S. and worldwide in the coming year.
Soybean yields in 2012 are expected to decrease in most of the major soybean-producing states, including Iowa, where the projected 2012 yield is 43 bu./acre, compared to 50.5 bu. in 2011. USDA is estimating Minnesota to have only a minor reduction in the 2012 soybean yield at 38 bu., which compares to 38.5 bu. in 2011, but is significantly lower than the 2010 average soybean yield of 45 bu. Other projected 2012 soybean yields are Illinois at 37 bu., compared to 47 bu. in 2011; Indiana at 37 bu., compared to 45 bu. in 2011; Nebraska at 43 bu., compared to 53.5 bu. in 2011; and South Dakota at 31 bu., compared to 37 bu. in 2011.
Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.