Rochester, Minn. | Reuters – Advisory service Pro Farmer, a division of Farm Journal Media, forecast Aug. 23 that the 2019 U.S. corn harvest would drop 7.4 per cent from last year and the soybean crop would plunge 23 per cent after excessive rains stalled planting this spring.
Why it matters: If Pro Farmer’s projections are realized, the corn crop would be the seventh largest on record. The soy crop would be the sixth largest despite what would be the largest year-on-year drop in production since 1983.
The forecasts, released after an annual Pro Farmer crop tour of seven top-producing states, were below the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections issued on Aug. 12.
Pro Farmer projected the corn crop at 13.358 billion bushels based on an average yield of 163.3 bushels per acre (bpa), below USDA’s 13.901-billion-bushel forecast and average yield of 169.5 bpa.
Soybean production was projected at 3.497 billion bushels based on an average yield of 46.1 bpa, below USDA’s production outlook for 3.68 billion bushels and a yield of 48.5 bpa.
U.S. corn and soybean planting this spring was the slowest on record as rains and flooding ravaged the Midwest.
Farmers, rattled by a years-long crop supply glut and a prolonged U.S.-China trade war that has cut prices, have complained that the USDA’s latest crop report did not reflect the crop, which sent prices down sharply.
Tensions on the crop tour ramped up after a USDA employee was threatened, prompting the agency to pull staff from the tour.
The adverse spring weather put crops well behind their normal pace of growth, lowered yield potential, raised the risk of disease and left fields more vulnerable to early frost.
“There’s a long period between now and when farmers will be harvesting. Things can change, and this crop is going to need time and favourable weather to be able to deliver what we’re seeing,” said retired Minnesota farmer and crop scout Dick Overby.
Pro Farmer said the number of corn ears and soybean pods counted in about 3,000 fields scouted this week was well below normal.
“That means the (soybean) yield factory is limited, especially in the eastern corn belt and South Dakota, where the spring conditions were worst and plantings were most severely delayed,” said Jeff Wilson, Pro Farmer senior market analyst.