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U.S. Corn Crop Could be Smallest Since 2012 Drought

Based on surveys conducted ahead of USDA reports due for release today, analysts say corn plantings will total 86.7 to 87 million acres after a rainy and cold spring. That would be well below the 92.8 million acres that farmers had planned to seed. The 6% downturn in plantings could mean the smallest harvest since drought shriveled fields in 2012, assuming normal weather and yields.

The International Grains Council lowered its forecast for the global corn crop by 2% on Thursday, noting “a difficult start to the growing season for U.S. maize.” Indigo Ag, based in Memphis, Tennessee, said its crop health index for corn, based on satellite imagery, “is significantly below 2018 levels and is ranking below 2012’s historically poor corn harvest.”

Analysts have said there could be a spike in prevented-planting land measuring in the millions of acres. The USDA’s annual Acreage Report, due for release today at noon (EDT), is expected to provide clarity. The USDA surveys tens of thousands of growers during the first two weeks of June for the report.

In a normal year, harvested corn acreage is roughly 8% smaller than planted acreage. The USDA has projected a corn yield of 166 bushels an acre. When those factors are combined with analysts’ estimates of corn plantings, they suggest a harvest of 13.2 to 13.3 billion bushels, which would be the smallest total since 2012’s 10.78 billion bushels.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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