CME: Corn Crop Continues to Deteriorate

US - As harvest approaches, USDA says that the condition of the US corn crop continues to deteriorate, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 8 September 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

The crop is maturing in a more or less normal fashion. Virtually all (92 per cent) of acres are estimated to be in the dough stage or beyond. That compares with a five-year average of 92 per cent for the first week of September.

71 per cent of corn acres are dented compared to a five-year average of 70 per cent. 18 per cent of acres are considered mature where the five-year average is 20 per cent.

Those numbers are reasonably encouraging since late planting has left some of this crop susceptible to an early frost. The concerning numbers continue to be crop condition ratings which are getting worse and worse and doing so at a very rapid pace. As can be seen in the top chart, only 52 per cent of acres were rated good or excellent this past week, down another two per cent from the week before.

This week’s good/excellent ratings compare to 69 per cent last year and a 10-year average of 57.8 per cent. Only five other years since 1988 (‘91, ‘93, ‘02, ‘03 and’05) have seen lower Good/Excellent crop percentages at this point in the growing season.

Yields in those years were mixed relative to trend yield with ‘91, ‘93 and ‘02 falling short of the 1960-2010 trend by 11, 22.6 and 11 bushels, respectively, yield in ‘00 matching the trend yield while those of ‘05 exceeded the trend by two bushels per acre.

The 1960-2010 trend yield for this year is 157.3 bushels/acre. The trend yield for 1996-2010, a period which corresponds with biotech corn traits and fits the biases of optimists better than does the longerterm trend, is 161.3 bushels per acre.

While biotech traits have helped yields, wee believe it is always important to note that the more recent period contains no years in which hot, dry weather covered large numbers of corn acres. Is the better trend the doing of genetics suppliers or Divine providence?

Perhaps more concerning for this year is USDA’s estimate that 21 per cent of this year’s corn acres are in poor or very poor condition where only 11 per cent rated in those bottom two categories in 2010.

These lower crop conditions are reflected in lower yield estimates by a number of market analysts. Informa Economics cut its estimated corn yield from 158 bushel/acre to 151 last week. The reduction dropped their forecast crop to 12.711 billion bushels, down from their prior estimate of 13.353. Allendale reduced its forecast yield to 147.7 bushels per acre and its crop estimate to only 12.466 billion bushels.

Soybean crop condition continues to decline as well, but not at nearly the pace of the corn crop. 56 per cent of soybean acres were rated as being in either good or excellent condition last week.

That compares to 57 per cent the week before, 64 per cent for the same week in 2010 and an average of 56.8 per cent over the past 10 years. The soybean crop is lagging a bit in terms of maturity but it is very early to make that call as only six per cent of acres, versus a five-year average of 13 per cent, are dropping leaves as of last week.

Informa’s most recent yield estimate is 41.5 bushels/acre, down 1 bushel from their previous forecast. Allendale’s latest estimate for soybean yield is 40.7 bushels/ acre. USDA’s August estimate was 41.4 bushels/acre. USDA’s monthly Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates reports will be released Monday, 12 September.

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