September 12, 2011

Nebraska corn farmers stay within reach of record crop

Weather issues during the growing season were behind USDA's move to lower its estimated Nebraska corn yield to 160 bushels per acre in today's crop production report. That's 6 bushels below last month's estimate and 6 bushels below yields Nebraska farmers saw last year.

If such yields are realized, Nebraska farmers will produce a 1.54 billion bushel crop, which would be the second-largest on record for the state and off just a hair from the record 1.58 billion bushels produced in 2009.

Despite the drop in its yield estimate, USDA's crop progress report still shows the state's overall corn crop to be in great condition. That report, out this afternoon, pegs 76 percent of Nebraska's corn crop as good to excellent, with 17 percent fair and only 7 percent poor to very poor.

As for maturity, USDA said only 9 percent of the state's corn crop was mature as of September 11. That's off from last year's 23 percent mature and the five-year average of 20 percent mature as of this point. A year ago, 2 percent of the state's crop has been harvested by Sept. 12; we need some warm, dry weather before that will happen, although some areas are getting close.

Nationally, 53 percent of the crop was in good to very good condition, with 27 percent fair and 20 percent poor to very poor. Meanwhile, 29 percent was mature, compared to 50 percent last year and the five-year average of 33 percent.

As for national yields, USDA lowered it's estimate today to 148.1 bushels per acre, down 4.9 bushels from its August forecast and down 4.7 bushels from last year. The drop was a bit more than anticipated but within range. If harvested acres are as forecast, that will put overall national production and 12.5 billion bushels.

While smaller than last month's estimated 12.9 billion bushels, the crop would be slightly larger than last year's and would still be the third largest on record.

The National Corn Growers Association noted the many events over the growing season that impacted yields — from heat and drought to hail and floods — and yet farmers may still produce the third largest crop on record.

Only 10 years ago, the average national yield was 138 bushels per acre and production totaled only 9.5 billion bushels. The decade before that, the average yield reached 107 bushels per acre nationally and production totaled only 7.5 billion bushels. Even as estimates are revised down to account for the damage done to the 2011 crop by weather, the strides made through innovative technology and techniques continually allow growers to excel even under difficult circumstances, NCGA said.

While USDA did lower U.S. corn ending stocks 672 million bushels (down from its 714 million bushel estimate last month) in its supply and demand report (.pdf), global corn ending stocks actually increased 114 million bushels from August, with increases in South America and Europe more than offsetting the reduction projected in the U.S.

This week's photos come to the Nebraska Corn Board's 2011 crop progress photo set at Flickr. The top one is from the Howells-Clarkson FFA Chapter and the bottom one is from the SEM FFA Chapter.

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