USDA pegs corn yield at 123.4 bushels, smallest crop in 6 years

By Susanne Retka Schill | August 10, 2012

USDA is now projecting the national average corn yield will be 123.4 bushels per acre, in the range that was expected by the trade. That is a 22.6 bushel per acre reduction from last month’s supply/demand report. In July, USDA also dropped the national average yield by 20 bushels. This summer’s deepening drought totally wipe out USDA’s spring predictions of a record corn crop. As currently forecast, the 2012-’13 corn yield would be the lowest since 1995-’96.

In the Aug. 10 World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report, the USDA says U.S. feed grain supplies for 2012-’13 are projected sharply lower again. Corn production is forecast 2.2 billion bushels lower and sorghum production forecast 92 million bushels lower.

Corn area harvested for grain is also lowered, down 1.5 million acres from the last month’s forecast that was based on the June Acreage report. The U.S. sorghum yield is forecast 16.3 bushels per acre lower at 48.6 bushels as drought stressed sorghum from the Central Plains to the Corn Belt. Sorghum harvested area is also lowered slightly.

U.S. corn production for 2012-’13 is forecast at 10.8 billion bushels, the lowest since 2006-’07. Relatively small increases in carryin and imports only partly offset this month’s substantial reduction in crop size. Ending stocks for 2011-’12 are projected 118 million bushels higher with lower expected exports, reduced corn use for ethanol, and a small increase in imports. Imports for 2012-’13 are also raised, up 45 million bushels to 75 million, reflecting strong domestic corn prices and competitively priced foreign supplies. Total U.S. corn supplies for 2012-’13 are projected down 2.0 billion bushels and at a 9-year low.

This month’s large reduction in U.S. corn supplies and the sharply higher price outlook are expected to further reduce 2012-’13 corn usage. Total use is projected 1.5 billion bushels lower and at 11.2 billion would be a 6-year low. The biggest reduction again this month is for feed and residual disappearance, projected down 725 million bushels. Food, seed, and industrial (FSI) use is also projected lower, down 470 million bushels, mostly reflecting a 400-million-bushel reduction in corn used to produce ethanol. Reductions in other food and industrial uses account for the remainder of the FSI decline. Ending stocks for 2012-’13 are projected at 650 million bushels, 533 million lower and the smallest carryout since 1995-’96. The 2012-’13 season-average farm price for corn is projected at a record $7.50 to $8.90 per bushel, up sharply from the $5.40 to $6.40 per bushel projected in July. Projected farm prices for the other feed grains are also raised.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2012-’13 are reduced 56.5 million tons mostly reflecting the forecast 55.7-million-ton reduction in the U.S. corn crop. Larger 2012-’13 corn beginning stocks in the United States and Brazil partly offset lower U.S. and foreign coarse grain production. Brazil corn beginning stocks are raised 2.8 million tons based on higher reported production for 2011-’12.

Foreign corn production for 2012-’13 is mostly unchanged with increases for China, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa mostly offset by reductions for EU-27, Ukraine, India, Serbia, Russia, Croatia, Moldova, and Canada.

Global 2012-’13 corn trade is projected sharply lower this month in response to tighter U.S. supplies and higher prices. Corn imports are lowered for China, EU-27, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Vietnam, Israel, Colombia, Peru, and Syria. In addition to the United States, corn exports are reduced for Ukraine, EU-27, and Serbia. Partly offsetting are export increases for Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Canada. Global corn consumption is projected 38.9 million tons lower with the United States accounting for more than three-fourths of the reduction. Foreign corn feeding drops 8.8 million tons with only part of the decline offset by higher wheat feeding. Corn feeding is lowered for EU-27, India, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Israel, and Indonesia. Global corn ending stocks are projected 10.8 million tons lower with increases for China, Brazil, and Argentina only partly making up for the large reduction in the United States and smaller reductions in a number of other countries.