May 15, 2014

US corn production in 2014 may surpass 2013 record



According to a federal report, corn growers in the US may exceed 2013's record production this year despite lesser acreage allocated to the grain.

The USDA's first World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report of 2014 envisions the nation's farmers producing 13.9 billion bushels of corn, up slightly from last year's record.


Higher yields were expected to offset the lesser acreage devoted to corn, with estimates that farmers may harvest 165.3 bushels of corn per acre, up 6.5 bushels from 2013. Corn acreage is expected to be 91.7 million acres, down from 95.4 million acres.


However, corn prices may drop in the later part of 2014. The season-average price for corn was forecast to be lower at a range of US$3.85 and US$4.55 per bushel, down from US$4.50 to US$4.80 a year earlier.


Globally, the USDA anticipates 2014-15 corn production of 979.1 million tonnes, unchanged from the previous period.


In the meantime, US soybean production is expected to be high, rising by 346 million bushels towards a record of 3.64 billion bushels. This is mainly due to the USDA's expectation that farmers will plant 81.5 million acres of the crop, which is five million acres more than last year.


Soybean yields per acre are forecast to be 45.2 bushels, up about two bushels from a year ago, while the per-bushel price into 2015 could sink to US$9.75 and US$11.75 per bushel, down from US$13.10 in 2013.


The report is supposedly the USDA's most accurate agricultural expectations, based on assumptions that summer conditions will be normal across the Corn Belt in the US.


However, weather events in the coming months could significantly affect actual crop production, as illustrated in 2012 when months of summer drought withered US corn and soybean fields, pushing prices to record levels.


"Farmers right now are in the process of planting, and there's nothing produced yet," said Dennis Conley, an agricultural economist at the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Growers across the Corn Belt are moving on to plant their latest crop, while making up for time lost due to a cold, wet advent of spring in most of the region. By this week, corn planting had rebounded in Missouri and Illinois to a pace ahead of the five-year average.


The USDA said cold spells in April caused further declines in the condition of winter wheat. The department is currently expecting crop production this year to be 1.40 billion bushels, down 9% from 2013. Yields were forecast to fall by 4.3 bushels per acre, to 43.1.