Cordonnier Feels Upside Is Limited on USDA's Corn Yield Estimate

Posted on 08/14/2018 11:49 AM

In his weekly report, Crop Consultant Dr. Michael Cordonnier spent some time examining USDA’s August Crop Report, in which USDA estimated farmers would harvest 81.77 million acres of corn with an average yield of 178.4 bu. per acre (a record) for a 14.586 billion bu. crop. He acknowledges that “Ever since the crop was planted, there have been reports of excellent germination and very high plant populations.”

With that said, he did feel that USDA may have pegged the corn yield too high in Michigan (158 bu. per acre), Minnesota (191 bu. per acre), Kansas (129 bu. per acre) and South Dakota (170 bu. per acre). He did not think the department was too low on any of its estimates.

With yields already forecast to beat the old record by 1.8 bu. per acre, Cordonnier notes there is probably limited upside potential for that figure. For USDA’s yield peg to rise further, it would probably require heavier ear weights than the figure USDA uses for its August report, and for that to happen, weather this month would need to be cooler and wetter than normal. The near-term forecast is not conducive to that end.

Therefore, Cordonnier gives 25% odds the corn yield may rise in the September Crop Report, 40% odds it may hold near unchanged and 35% odds it may fall.

Cordonnier also believes USDA is too high on its harvested acreage estimate, given wet spots in northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska as well as dry areas of northern Missouri, southern Iowa and western Illinois. He thinks that figure is closer to 81.47 million acres.

For soybeans, USDA last week estimated farmers would harvest 88.86 million acres with an average yield of 51.6 bu. per acre for a 4.586-billion-bu. record-large crop.

Cordonnier believes USDA is too high with its soybean yield estimates for Michigan (46 bu. per acre), Missouri (45 bu. per acre) and Arkansas (50 bu. per acre). On the other hand, he thinks yields may be too low in North Dakota (38 bu. per acre), Minnesota (49 bu. per acre) and Tennessee (49 bu. per acre) based on soil moisture and weather.

Given the forecast for hotter, drier weather next week, Cordonnier is not overly confident that the soybean yield will move higher in subsequent reports. Therefore, he gives “a 25% probability that the soybean yield might be higher in the September Crop Report, a 50% probability that it would essentially be unchanged (plus or minus a little), and a 25% probability that the soybean yield might be lower in the September Crop Report."

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