USDA projects US corn crop at 122.8 bushels per acre

By Susanne Retka Schill | September 12, 2012

The USDA dropped its estimate for the national average corn yield by 0.6 bushels to 122.8 bushels per acre—a figure on the higher side of some trade estimates that projected yields dropping below 120 bushels per acre. “Lower yields and production in the Corn Belt and Central Plains are partly offset by increases elsewhere,” the USDA says in its monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report released Aug. 12, “Particularly across the South where an early harvest is boosting available supplies.” No changes were made to the area harvested.

The forecast drops U.S. corn production by 52 million bushels from the previous month to 10.73 billion bushels, but adds that the new crop year’s feed supplies are actually projected higher because that drop in corn production is more than offset by higher project corn carryin. Corn supplies for the 2012-’13 marketing year are projected 108 million bushels higher.

The USDA analysts explain other adjustments made due to the early harvest. Exports for 2011-’12 are lowered 10 million bushels reflecting the slowing pace of shipments during August. Feed and residual use for 2011-’12 is lowered 150 million bushels based on the record level of crop maturity and harvest progress as of Sept. 1. State-level crop progress reports indicate that nearly 11 percent of the 2012 corn crop was harvested before the Sept. 1 start of the 2012-’13 marketing year. Based on state-by-state production forecasts from the Sept. 12 Crop Production report, nearly 1.2 billion bushels of new-crop corn are estimated to have been available for use before the end of the old-crop 2011-’12 marketing year. This is up more than 700 million bushels from a year ago. Early new-crop corn use is expected to displace use of 2011 old-crop corn and boost old-crop inventories on Sept. 1. As a result, early new-crop usage reduces the feed and residual calculation in the balance sheet.

Ethanol use is unchanged, at a projected 4.5 billion bushels for the 2012-’13 marketing year, compared to 5 billion bushels last year.

Total U.S. corn use for 2012-’13 is raised this month with higher expected feed and residual disappearance more than offsetting lower projected exports. Feed and residual disappearance is projected 75 million bushels higher, in part reflecting higher expected September-December disappearance with the expected rise in early new-crop usage during the 2011-’12 marketing year. Exports for 2012-’13 are projected 50 million bushels lower with increased competition from lower-priced South American supplies. Ending stocks for 2012-’13 are projected 83 million bushels higher at 733 million. The projected range for the corn season-average farm price is lowered 30 cents on both ends of the range to $7.20 to $8.60 per bushel.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2012-’13 are projected 4.0 million tons lower despite higher beginning stocks of corn in the United States and barley in Canada. Reduced corn production prospects for EU-27, Serbia, and Canada add to the decline in the United States to reduce world corn output 8.0 million tons. Corn production is lowered 4.4 million tons for EU-27 with yield reductions for France, Italy, Romania and Hungary as extended drought and heat in August further reduced production prospects across southern Europe. Serbia production is also lowered 1.2 million tons reflecting the same adverse weather conditions. Canada corn production is lowered 1.1 million tons based on the latest survey results from Statistics Canada.

Global 2012-’13 corn exports are lowered 1.8 million tons this month with the largest reduction for the United States. Corn exports are also lowered for Serbia and EU-27. Partly offsetting these reductions is a 1.0-million-ton increase for Brazil exports. Lower barley exports from Russia are more than offset with increases for Canada, Ukraine, and EU-27. Foreign coarse grain consumption is lowered mostly on lower corn usage. Corn feeding is lowered 4.0 million tons for the EU-27, 1.0 million tons for Canada, and 0.4 million tons for Serbia. Corn feeding is raised 0.8 million tons for Egypt. Barley feeding is raised 1.0 million tons for EU-27, 0.9 million tons for Canada, and 0.2 million tons for Iran. Barley feeding is lowered 0.5 million tons for Ukraine, and 0.2 million tons for Russia. Global corn ending stocks are projected 0.6 million tons higher with the increase for the United States partly offset by a reduction for Brazil.