Report: Corn yields in Iowa forecast up from a year ago

Pudenz: Exports to Canada increasing

-Messenger file photo
The Aug. 11 crop production report indicates that among the major corn-producing states, yields are forecast above a year ago in Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota. Yields in Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri are forecast below a year ago.

The Aug. 11 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates reduced supplies, lower domestic use, small exports and tighter ending stocks.

Corn production for 2023-2024 has been forecast at 15.1 billion bushels, down 209 million from the July projection and, if realized, would be the second highest crop on record behind 2016-2017.

The season’s first survey-based corn yield forecast, at 175.1 bushels per acre, is 2.4 bushels lower than last month’s projection. The Aug. 11 crop production report indicates that among the major corn-producing states, yields are forecast above a year ago in Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota. Yields in Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri are forecast below a year ago.

Total U.S. corn use for 2023-2024 has been cut 95 million bushels to 14.4 billion. Exports for 2023-2024 have been cut 50 million bushels to 2.1 billion. With supply declining more than use, ending stocks are lowered 60 million bushels to 2.2 billion.

The season-average corn price received by producers has been raised 10 cents to $4.90 per bushel.

This month’s 2023-2024 foreign coarse grain outlook includes lower production, reduced trade and smaller ending stocks compared to last month. Foreign corn production is down, with cuts to the European Union, China and Russia crop partially offset by increases for Ukraine and Canada’s crop.

Ryan Sauer, vice president of market development for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, said the corn market is quite volatile thanks to the weather. But as farmers head into harvest, yields should still hover on the high side, he said.

“At a recent committee meeting, one guy said he’d received 5 inches of rain and the guy sitting next to him said he’d gotten nothing out of that same weather pattern,” Sauer said. “But the crop has been doing better than expected, even in the areas where it’s dry. When you think about August, we’ll have a lot more definition as to where the market is headed.”

Sauer also noted that “the inverse is real.”

“I talked about it with our farmers. The inverse is basically what the price is today based on the price in October or September. From August to October, there’s a $1 per bushel inverse, effectively meaning the price is higher now than what it will be when we get into fall and that tells me two things: the market is telling you to sell any old crop corn and, from a farmer’s perspective, make sure you’re staying current on contract deliveries. You could face a discount on contract deliveries and you don’t want that.”

More on-farm storage has helped levels of commercially stored crop level out.

“If you look at the June 30 USDA stocks report, there was a ton of corn still sitting in farmers’ hands but farmers have moved a lot of corn since then, so I anticipate storage levels will be just fine heading into harvest,” Sauer said.

Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension economist, said there’s some drought stress but other places have been picking up much needed rain.

“This time of year, we tend to think of the weather in late July setting the stage for the corn crop and the weather in August setting the stage for the soybean crop,” Hart said. “The USDA has moved the corn crop a bit in terms of yield based upon the dry conditions and the little bit of heat we got in later July. If we look back at what happened in 2020 through 2022, we were down in the lower 170s and we could get there for 2023.”

Hart added that there will be sites across the state that will experience storage problems this harvest.

“We will see piles out there, especially since we picked up some extra rain and a few more bushels. But when you look at storage on a national scale, we have enough storage capacity for new crop corn,” Hart said.

Christopher Pudenz, economics and research manager/economist at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, said the acreage estimates in the July WASDE report were up from the June report by 2 million acres of corn.

“Which surprised the market quite a bit on top of an already increased year-over-year acreage estimate. But the WASDE did shave a few bushels off the yield per acre, which I’m pretty sure is the first time that the USDA has shaved bushels from the June to July WASDE since 2012, which is in response to the weather conditions,” Pudenz said.

Nationally, corn crop conditions aren’t looking all that great historically speaking, Pudenz noted.

This summer, the USDA reported only 55 percent of the corn crop rated as good/excellent, down 5 percent from the average of 65 percent. Iowa’s corn crop has rated the worst in the last five years, Pudenz said, and the drought monitor shows drought conditions stretching from the Dakotas east through Minnesota and down to Iowa and Illinois. Missouri has been experiencing drought-like conditions as well.

“Most of the broader Corn Belt is experiencing some sort of drought. The Climate Prediction Center predicts the drought in the southern half of Iowa and Missouri should go away in August, but the proof will be in the pudding,” Pudenz said. “In terms of stocks and storage, year-over-year the USDA’s first of June corn stocks estimate showed a slight increase, as it’s been the lowest since 2014. This was driven by a fairly substantial increase in off-farm storage by 15% year-over-year from June 2022 to June 2023.”

Basically, farmers have taken advantage of high grain prices the last several years and sold more so there’s less total corn stock in storage, Pudenz said. Exports have been down compared to last year.

Other countries’ huge corn crops haven’t helped the U.S. corn crop outlook either.

“Brazil more than doubled its corn production and increased its corn quantity by over 500% for the first time since our 2012 drought. Brazil’s 2022-2023 market year exports have eclipsed the U.S.,” Pudenz said. “On the bright side, exports to Canada are steadily increasing, because Canada has its own version of California’s low carbon fuel standard so they’re needing more corn for ethanol and are looking to the U.S. to meet their regulations.”


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