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What will the '08 crops look like?

Agriculture.com Staff 07/15/2008 @ 8:17am

The USDA's June Acreage report didn't tell the whole truth. Data was taken before flooding washed the productivity away from thousands of acres in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

While another USDA report later this month will aim to get a better idea of what those acres will raise, University of Illinois (UIUC) economists are looking to trim some of the uncertainty from the '08 crop year forecast by applying weather models and historical data.

"Corn and soybean yield prospects are always uncertain and that uncertainty is magnified this year due to much of the crop being planted later than usual, extensive flood damage, and extensive replanting in some areas," according to a report by UIUC economists Scott Irwin, Darrel Good and Mike Tannura.

Planting date remains the key variable in determining how weather-damaged acres will yield. The earlier those acres were planted, the more yield potential they hold. But, that's not a silver bullet for good yields, especially this year. In general, Mother Nature still holds the key to whether damaged acres will raise a crop.

"Production expectations for both [corn and soybean] crops remain very uncertain for at least three reasons. First, the magnitude of harvested acreage is not yet known. Second, remaining summer weather is not known. Third, the crop yield models have relatively large forecast errors," write Irwin, Good and Tannura.

"The various models result in a wide range in the U.S. yield forecasts for both corn and soybeans. Corn yield forecasts range from 129.3 to 163.8 bushels and the soybean yield forecasts range from 37.8 to 45.3 bushels. As a result, production forecasts are also in a wide range, from 10.204 billion to 12.930 billion bushels for corn and 2.723 billion to 3.269 billion for soybeans. However, the forecasts based on the crop weather model that incorporates weather through June and assumes average weather in July and August and forecasts based on crop condition ratings at the end on June are remarkably close.

"Note that, with the exception of the unfavorable July and August weather forecasts, these yield and production expectations exceed those of the USDA's World Agricultural Outlook Board. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report released on July 11, 2008 estimated 2008 U.S. corn yield potential at 148.4 bushels per acre and production at 11.715 billion bushels. Soybean yield potential was estimated at 41.6 bushels per acre and production at 3 billion bushels," they add.

The USDA's June Acreage report didn't tell the whole truth. Data was taken before flooding washed the productivity away from thousands of acres in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

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