Survey confirms record crop potential

Farmers are gearing up to harvest record corn and soybean crops this fall, if weather holds for the rest of the growing season.

Farmers are gearing up to harvest record corn and soybean crops this fall, if weather holds for the rest of the growing season, according to results of the latest Farm Futures survey.

Corn production could hit 14.331 billion bushels this fall; nearly 3% more than the bin buster they grew in 2013. Average yields of 171.06 bushels per acre (bpa) appear possible nationwide, also a record, after a summer marked by cool temperatures.

Soybeans also appear on track for records, though output could still be trimmed by late summer dryness – or driven higher if conditions moderate into fall. Farm Futures projects yields of 46.07 bpa on average, for a crop of 3.857 billion bushels.

"Soybean yields are still uncertain, with a lot of variance still possible in how the crop will wind up," said Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures senior market analyst. "Drying conditions headed into August are a concern from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee up through Missouri, Iowa and parts of the Dakotas."

Below average precipitation in the second half of July doesn’t appear to be harming corn potential, thanks to mild, if not cool conditions in the Midwest that reduced moisture needs for the crop. "Our survey shows potential for larger corn yields if an extended period of grain fill allows kernels to gain weight," Knorr said.

Prices of both crops should be headed lower if yield potential holds. "Cheaper corn should encourage some additional demand, but ending stocks on Aug. 31, 2015 could still rise toward 2 billion bushels. That could send the average cash price for the crop under $3.75, with futures prices already below that level. Farmers should get some downside protection from the new farm program, but it may take production problems in other growing regions to stabilize prices," said Knorr.

Soybean inventories should also grow in the year ahead, starting to approach a burdensome level of 400 million bushels. That could push the average cash price for the crop below $10, even with robust export sales.

"Preseason bookings are off to a record start, and better economic growth in China could boost our exports significantly," Knorr said. "But stocks may still be huge a year from now, especially if growers in Brazil follow through with plans to increase production there."

Farm Futures surveyed more than 1,325 growers by email July 21 to Aug. 4. USDA makes its first estimate of 2014 corn and soybean production based on surveys of farmers and their fields Aug. 12.

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