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AccuWeather predicts substantial 2019 corn and soybean yield shortfall

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
May 23, 2019, 2:37:56 PM EDT

Corn crop in Nebraska

In this April 10, 2019 photo, flood waters from the Missouri River destroyed grain silos and washed corn out of them, on a farm in Bellevue, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Corn and soybean production in the United States for 2019 will be lower than the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimate and also lower than the 2018 yield because of continued wet weather throughout a number of key states, according to a new AccuWeather analysis. The next two weeks will determine how much lower the yield will be.

“The next two weeks are critical for corn planting,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls. “Most intended corn acres not planted by June 4th will likely go to soybeans or be left unplanted.”

Corn planting is at 49% as of May 20 in 18 key states, according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report. The five-year average is 80% of the corn in those states planted by that time. The next Crop Progress report is due May 27, when the five-year average indicates 90% of the corn should be planted, but AccuWeather predicts it will be in the 65-70% range.

AccuWeather analysts estimate the 2019 corn crop will yield 14.15 billion bushels, lower than the USDA’s estimate of 14.9 billion bushels and also lower than the 2018 yield of 14.3 billion bushels.

Soybean yield will also be lower than the USDA estimate (4.17 billion bushels) and the 2018 total (4.54 billion bushels), according to AccuWeather, whose analysts estimate 4.07 billion bushels.

“The next two weeks the weather will be most favorable in the East and least favorable in the central U.S.,” Nicholls said. “People who planted corn May 20 could lose about 10% of their yield. But if it gets out to June 4th, they may lose about 22%. It really starts to drop off when you get to early June and corn hasn’t been planted yet.

“And some of this corn is not going to be planted until early June,” Nicholls added. “That’s a fact of life right now.”

If farmers in the Corn Belt had a headache earlier this month, they've now got a migraine. However, those with crop insurance can receive payouts instead of planting their crops, which helps the farmer but cuts into U.S. agricultural supplies. The modest payouts serve as an incentive not to plant fields with soybeans and grains that might garner low prices at harvest time, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Three of the top six corn-producing states are far off pace; Illinois’ five-year average for corn planting by May 20 is 89% but it’s at 24% this year. Indiana is typically 73% but is at just 14%, while South Dakota averages 76% but is only at 19%.

Those three states produce more than 25% of the corn in the U.S.

Soybean planting is also behind pace -- at just 19% planted compared to a five-year average of 47%.

“If you’re way behind on corn, you’re not going to catch up planting soybeans,” said Nicholls. “But soybeans can be planted as late as mid- to late June without a big yield loss. The drop-off in production is less compared to corn.”

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