National corn yield

How big of a harvest? 2017 corn yield and production

Corn growers have raised the bar on acres and production almost every year recently. But 2017 could be different, based on how many soybean seeds go into the ground.

Earlier this month, Industry At A Glance looked at USDA’s first stab at acreage intentions for the upcoming planting season. Corn is projected to absorb 90 million acres while soybean planting is pegged at 88 million acres. Part of that earlier discussion revolved around current weather conditions and how that may impact final acreage numbers:  

…the market will be watching closely the acreage trends between corn and soybeans.   While the initial indication for soybeans to capture more acres in 2017 versus 2016, that collective decision could change quickly. That’s especially true considering the widespread outlook for warmer weather – it’s difficult to be patient when planting conditions turn favorable. If that occurs, we could see a decisive shift back towards more corn acres.

Weather considerations also potentially impact yield. Generally, the sooner corn can get in the ground, the better. Favorable weather leading to early planting could help to boost yield in 2017 versus trendline expectations, assuming fairly typical weather across the U.S.

This week’s graph looks at the current yield trend during the past several decades. The trendline reflects an annual increase of 1.89 bushels per acre. Based on the trendline, 2017’s yield should come in at 167.5 bushels per acre. However, as all readers know, that could vary considerably depending on weather conditions in the coming months and through the summer.

Nevertheless, this all has an important impact on where we end up at the end of harvest. Based on the initial forecast for 90 million acres planted, 91.5% harvest rate, equaling 82.35 million acres and 167.5 bushels per acre, results in total production around 13.8 billion bushels. That’s right in line with the four-year average total use – thus carryover would remain relatively steady going into 2018. 

How do you perceive decision making among farmers this year? Will they surprise us with additional acres and/or early plantings, thereby surpassing the yield projection? If you grow corn, what’s your expectation? What’s the talk in your area? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Nevil Speer is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and serves as vice president of U.S. operations for AgriClear, Inc. – a wholly-owned subsidiary of TMX Group Limited. The views and opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the TMX Group Limited and Natural Gas Exchange Inc.

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