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Doubt Expressed over Corn Yields


by Stan Maddux

Published: Friday, September 23, 2022

There seems a degree of uncertainty over yields heading into the harvest season.

Jim Mintert, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, said production might be more difficult to forecast accurately this year because of spotty conditions during the growing season in areas like the Midwest.

"We had some places that got very timely rains and had extremely good conditions, and places that really suffered some stress. I think it's going to take a combine to sort out of these yields," he said.

His response, during a Sept. 16 corn and soybean outlook at the West Lafayette campus, came as a result of USDA forecasting lower yields than what it predicted nationwide in August.

Mintert said the change is in line with what the industry expected, but he felt there would be less of a drop in the yield estimates.

"I was still just a little bit surprised USDA pulled it down that much," he said.

USDA reduced its monthly yield outlook for corn from 175.4 bushels per acre to 172.5 bushels per acre.

The USDA estimate for soybeans went down from 51.9 bushels per acre to 50.5 bushels per acre.

Michael Langemeier, another Purdue farm economist, said the percentage of crop rated by USDA as good to excellent heading into harvest is the lowest in five years and another possible factor in changing the yield forecast.

"I think that's coming into play when you look at these estimates," he said.

According to USDA, the situation for soybeans is more stable in Indiana where 60 bushels per acre predicted remains unchanged from the previous month.

Indiana farmers expect to harvest 190,000 more acres of soybeans than last year's total of 5.83 million acres.

As a result, a record for soybeans will be set in Indiana if current production estimates prove accurate, USDA said.

No records are predicted for corn in Indiana, where a slight dip from last month's yield forecast was blamed on a dry August.

USDA now predicts corn yields in the state will average 186 bushels per acre, down three bushels per acre from last month's estimate and nine bushels per acre lower than last year's total.

According to USDA, Hoosier farmers are predicting 5.05 million acres will be harvested or 220,000 fewer acres harvested than 2021.

Farmer Matt Schafer of LaCrosse said he's not expecting any record yields on his farm but feels production from both crops will be good to decent.

He couldn't be more specific because of how rainfall totals varied within the region and questions about the impact of last month being so dry.

"If you had the ability to water your soybeans here over the last few weeks, I think they look pretty decent. The beans that were not able to be watered that were on kind of the sandier ground, they probably had quite a few bushels shaved off by this lack of late-season moisture," he said.

Langemeier also noted net farm income forecast by USDA is not as much as last year but still very good considering higher operating costs brought on by inflation.

"It's lower than 2021 but certainly better than what we thought it would be in May," he said.

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