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Early yields send corn futures tumbling

Jeff Caldwell 09/13/2011 @ 3:15pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

With a lot of talk about potential frost looming later this week, early corn yield reports from the southern parts of the Corn Belt are coming in higher than just a couple weeks ago, and that's got the corn market under pressure.

Corn futures took a big hit Tuesday and continued to sag into Wednesday. A common mindset in Chicago since Monday's USDA crop production and supply/demand reports is that even if the agency trims corn yields in future reports, usage will fall too, maintaining the fragile balance between the 2. That leaves a lot of attention on current conditions, namely a corn crop that, as more combines start rolling in the Corn Belt, is going across the scales with higher yields than thought just a few days ago.

"I started harvest September 5 -- 400 acres out, all over 200 bushels/acre," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk contributor stupid. "Thought maybe 180 [bu/ac] before I started, but 235 bu/ac is the highest so far."

Those yields are coming in on mixed soil types in central Illinois, he says, adding "20 miles from me, a field yield-checked by Pro Farmer at 178 bu/ac was 208 bu/ac across the scale."

Early results from around that area confirm this isn't just one isolated result: In both central Illinois and southern Iowa, farmers are finding yields 25 to 40 bushels/acre higher than anticipated, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report.

The pace is really picking up in southeast Iowa, where Cargill senior grain merchandiser Ray Jenkins says he may have to adjust truck-unloading hours to help the Eddyville, Iowa, elevator and terminal keep up with the amount of grain coming in. That problem's complicated by the higher-than-expected yields area farmers are finding in early harvest work.

"Corn harvest is increasing at a rapid pace this week, and we are going to be challenged to handle the truck flow, even with allocations for a few more days," Jenkins said Tuesday. "The next big thing will be handling the wet/dry split of corn. With so little old crop dry corn available for the rest of the month, we may be running normal hours one day and shortened hours the next to control wet corn inventories.

"Early harvest reports are all over the map, but we are hearing of some better than expected yields, especially on early planted corn with multiple nitrogen applications on high quality soil," Jenkins adds.

But, will yield reports like these last? That's a big question mark considering the weather forecast for the next few days, especially in the northern 1/3 of the Corn Belt where frost is expected starting Wednesday night. Some say the corn is far enough along to get by okay even if it does dip below the frost line. The soybean crop, others say, may not be so lucky.

"If it does get that cold long enough and it sounds like it could be for multple nights, then you could take off some bean bushels on those fields that are still pretty dark green. The top 4-6 inches on the beans could have BBs in the pods," says Marketing Talk frequent contributor Mike M2692830. "As for corn, probably less noticeable. Ears are maturing and probably won't get cold enough to freeze that far down."

Adds Marketing Talk veteran contributor and southeast South Dakota farmer DW11: "A frost will hurt the beans more than the corn at this stage of the game, although the later-planted corn could still lose some bushels if it gets cold enough. There are a lot of grass-grean bean fields that will take a beating around here with a frost on Wednesday night. Some fields that were planted 2 weeks later than normal are now facing a frost about 10 days to 2 weeks earlier than normal. Not good if it happens."

   

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