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Corn/soybeans getting better vs. freeze risk

Agriculture.com Staff 08/21/2009 @ 6:08pm

Corn and soybeans continue to march towards maturity with improving yield potential, as rains the past few weeks and moderate temps have allowed the crop to continue to improve in yield potential. Pro Ag yield models continue to reach toward new highs, with corn yields now estimated over 161 bu/acre, and soybeans stretching towards 43.6 bu/acre. These are once again running to new high yield potential as we move closer to maturity.

The only problem is we also are running out of time to reach maturity, as the normal frost dates loom for a crop that was late in getting planted, is getting less GDD's than normal, and is running into fall and normal freeze dates with temps mostly running below normal. That is not a good combination, especially for states in northern/frost susceptible areas. It is a collision course that the record yield potential, late developing crop is running towards its first frost date. It is inevitable as late as the corn crop is that at least some of it will be lost to frost damage. The only question at this point is, how much will be lost of our 161 bu/acre corn crop? Will it be 1 bu/acre? 2 bu? 5 Bu? Or >5 bu/acre lost to frost?

The discussion centers around corn, as corn is the crop least able to adjust to the lateness of the crop. It will be a shame that the crop looks so good, but is so late, and some of that great looking crop will just simply be disked down. How much? What yield will be lost to low test weight on harvestable acres? These are important questions for now. Pro Ag would suggest with a normal frost date that 2-4 bu/acre national yields will be lost due to freeze damage. A very early freeze might do more damage (double???), while a late freeze could drop the damage to 1 bu/acre or so. But there will be yield lost (northern ND/MN will take a miracle to make grain?).

Soybeans could be a different story, as with normal frost dates most of the soybeans may yet reach maturity. Soybeans are a crop that seems able to adjust the plant for the day length, and certainly days are getting shorter now as we move forward in time. There may be some yield potential that the plant gives up, but more than likely most if not virtually all of the soybeans could be harvestable crop. That could mean soybeans might be more likely to have record or near record large crops this year, especially given the timely rains thus far in August that most of the country has participated in. With little heat damage in places like the Delta, HRW wheat country, and southern corn belt areas (where heat usually reduces yield potential), it could be surprising how good soybean yields might be nationally.

While outside markets have dominated recent market movement, overall soybeans seems to be losing ground to corn. Perhaps the corn is more threatened by the freeze potential??? While outside markets equally affect corn and soybeans, corn may find more support through the frost season, while soybeans might be clear of potential damage by mid to late September. Look for soybeans to come under more pressure than corn as we move through the frost threatened time period.

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