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‘I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that much of a drop’

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
August 12, 2019, 3:40:53 PM EDT

corn crop farm

Farmers still are wary about the condition of their corn because of the late planting in much of the U.S. Corn Belt. (John Roach/AccuWeather)


The latest crop estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) didn’t answer any questions regarding its seemingly high corn acreage data – and instead brought new questions about the USDA’s soybean estimates.

The estimated acreage for corn fell slightly, but the drop was not as much as expected – from 91.7 million acres in July to 90 million in Monday’s latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. However, the yield per harvested acre rose from 166 bushels to 169.5, so the total corn production estimate also rose, from 13.875 billion bushels to 13.901 billion bushels.

The soybean estimates were the more shocking of the two. The area planted dropped from 80 million acres to 76.7 million. The yield per harvested acre remained unchanged, so the total estimated production for soybeans was 3.680 billion bushels.

That total would be the lowest soybean yield in six years, when the total was 3.357 billion bushels in 2013.

The estimate of 76.7 million acres is also a substantial 14% fewer acres from the USDA’s initial estimate of 89.2 million acres in February.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that much of a drop,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls. “Were they that far off to start?

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AccuWeather’s estimates for corn and soybeans vary significantly from the latest USDA WASDE estimates. AccuWeather analysts predict the 2019 corn yield will be 13.07 billion bushels, a decline of 9.3% from 2018 and 5.9% lower than the latest USDA figures.

The difference between the estimates centers on forecasts for projected corn acres harvested, with AccuWeather analysts concerned that late-planted corn either won’t yield well or could be affected more this year by on-time frost. Also, late-planted corn will not yield as well, so the 169.5 bushels per acre estimate "seems a little high," Nicholls said.

AccuWeather’s projected soybean yield of 3.9 billion bushels reflects an even greater decline from 2018’s final soybean production totals. It would be a 14.1% drop-off from the 2018 final total of 4.544 billion bushels. However, AccuWeather’s predicted soybean yield is 6% higher than the USDA’s latest estimate.

“If the numbers are right, maybe farmers were too busy planting corn late to try to get soybeans planted in time,” Nicholls said.


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