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155? Not yet

Agriculture.com Staff 08/22/2008 @ 1:51pm

On August 12, the USDA released production estimates for this year's agricultural crops. They are forecasting corn yield at 155 bushels per acre, a substantial increase from the previous month's estimate of 148.4. Better weather conditions and improved crop ratings suggest rising yield potential, but is 155 too high?

Yes, we believe so, at least for now. A jump of over six bushels in one report is a significant increase considering all the uncertainty and challenges this year's crop faced during May and June. Many acres were abandoned or replanted. Replanted acres, along with other areas where heavily saturated soils may have affected growing conditions, would suggest that high-end average yield is unlikely. Yet, it appears that the USDA has taken a rather bold step, pushing yield to the second all-time highest level early in the estimation process. For comparison reasons, 2004 yield averaged 160 bushels per acre, and 2007 yield was 151.1 bushels.

Is 155 possible? Yes, for a September or October estimate when refined data is available. If weather is favorable and this year's crop escapes frost concern, then maybe 155 can be expected. The problem with such an early large estimate this year is that much of the crop is 7 to over 14 days behind maturity. We would not be surprised if the August USDA figure is the largest estimate for the year. We keep coming back to the question, why such a substantial increase in yield in one month with a crop that is so far behind in its growing season?

Whatever the reason, the USDA believes yield potential is strong. Our bias is more cautious. Yield potential may currently be closer to 151 or 152. We will leave room for the crop to grow. However, late-planted crops usually do not increase in size as fall approaches.

If you have questions or comments, contact Bryan Doherty at Top Farmer at 1-800-TOP-FARM ext. 129.

On August 12, the USDA released production estimates for this year's agricultural crops. They are forecasting corn yield at 155 bushels per acre, a substantial increase from the previous month's estimate of 148.4. Better weather conditions and improved crop ratings suggest rising yield potential, but is 155 too high?

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