September Crop Report

The USDA Crop Report released on Sept. 12 decreased the estimated U.S. corn production for 2008 by about 2%, or by approximately 216 million bushels, from the Aug. 1 estimate. The expected total production level in 2008 is now projected at 12.072 billion bushels, with a national average corn yield of 152.3 bu./acre. This compares to a total U.S. corn production of 13.074 billion bushels in 2007, and a national average corn yield of 151.1 bu./acre. Minnesota’s average 2008 corn yield on Sept. 1 is projected at 163 bu./acre – 17 bu./acre higher than the final 2007 corn yield of 146 bu., but below the record state corn yield of 174 bu. in 2005. The estimated 2008 corn yields in some other major corn production states include: Iowa, 168 bu.; Illinois, 172 bu.; Indiana, 164 bu.; Nebraska, 157 bu.; and Missouri, 142 bu. The 2008 USDA estimated corn yield in these states is just slightly below 2007 corn yield levels, which is surprising to some given the flooding and planting delays earlier in the 2008 growing season.

The estimated 2008 U.S. soybean production on Sept. 1, according to the USDA Crop Report, was 2.934 billion bushels. This projection was slightly lower than the Aug. 1 estimate of 2.973 billion bushels, but is higher than the 2.585 billion bushels of soybeans produced in the U.S. in 2007. The projected national average soybean yield for 2008 is 40 bu./acre, which compares to 41.2 bu. in 2007, but is well below the record national average yield of 43.3 bu. in 2005. Minnesota’s projected average soybean yield for 2008 is also 40 bu./acre, which compares to a final soybean yield of 41 bu. in 2007, and a state record average yield of 45 bu. in 2005. The estimated 2008 soybean yields in some other Midwestern states include: Iowa, 47 bu.; Illinois, 42 bu.; Indiana, 43 bu.; Nebraska, 48 bu.; and Missouri, 37 bu.

The projected carryover for U.S. corn as of Sept. 1, 2008, is at 1.018 billion bushels, which is about 30% lower than the corn carryover levels were a year ago. The projected U.S. soybean carryover levels are 135 million bushels, which is very similar to levels at this time in 2007. The global carryover levels for both corn and soybeans also continue to remain quite tight. The tight carryover levels, combined with continued strong corn and soybean demand both for domestic use and exports, should help maintain fairly solid corn and soybean prices in the coming months.

Crops Maturing
The first half of September has provided a nice window of above-normal temperatures in southern Minnesota, which has moved the 2008 corn and soybean crops much closer to maturity. Many of the early planted corn hybrids are now close to reaching physiological maturity, while some later-planted corn may need another week or two to reach maturity. Many soybeans are now turning color, with some early varieties dropping leaves. Full-scale soybean harvest should begin around Oct. 1 in several portions of southern Minnesota. Areas of the state that incurred later planting dates will require two to three weeks or longer without a killing frost in order for crops to reach maturity. Some favorable weather conditions will also be required well into October to allow natural drydown of corn in the field, in order to avoid expensive corn drying in 2008.

SURE Program Clarification
There have been some questions regarding 2009 crop insurance and NAP coverage requirements for SURE program eligibility in 2009. For 2009-2012, producers must purchase crop insurance (a minimum of CAT coverage) for all eligible crops, and NAP insurance coverage for other crops, in order to be eligible for the SURE program for a given crop year. In Minnesota, the deadline to purchase 2009 crop insurance for corn, soybeans, wheat, peas, sweet corn and other crops is March 15, 2009. However, the deadline to purchase 2009 crop insurance for existing alfalfa stands and other eligible hay ground is September 30, 2008.

Any producers who have hay or pasture acres on their farms who are not eligible for crop insurance – including grass waterways harvested for hay – and want to be eligible for the SURE Program in 2009 will have to purchase NAP insurance on those acres at their county FSA office by Sept. 30, 2008. Producers who want to be eligible for the SURE Program for 2009 need to pay attention to the crop insurance purchase deadlines for all planned crops to be raised in 2009, including existing forage acres. The forage provisions for crop insurance and NAP coverage are quite confusing, and vary from state to state, so it is best to check with your county FSA office and crop insurance agent for more details by Sept. 30, regarding the SURE Program crop insurance and NAP coverage details and requirements.

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 kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.