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USDA's First Field-Based Yield Check Shows A Bump in Corn And Soybean Yields, Production

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USDA’s first field-based yield survey of the year was released on Friday, showing the U.S. is on track to produce higher corn and soybean yields and production this year compared to what was reported in August. Despite the reduction,  soybean prices turned green on the CME, while new crop corn contract prices saw slight declines.

For corn, USDA's September Crop Production report showed a yield of 176.3 bu. per acre, which is 1.7 bu. per acre higher than the August report, and 4.3 bu. per acre above last year’s crop. With an updated yield, USDA shows corn production could reach 15 billion bushels, a 2% bump from August, and 6% above last year’s final production tally.

"There weren't a lot of surprises, just because the trade had been looking at this and preparing for this, says Chad Hart, an agricultural economist for Iowa State University. "If you want surprises here, it's that as they looked at the yield across the country, they found in general, things looked a little better than what we thought they did in August, especially as we look at some of the drought prone areas. So, you look at like the Dakotas, they actually bumped the yield up in North Dakota, in Minnesota, Nebraska, even here in Iowa. And so you did see that combination of not only did they raise acreage a bit, but they raised that yield a bit. And when you put it all together on the corn side, that brought us back up to 15 billion bushels."

Hart says when USDA adjusts yield and production higher from August to September, that typically sets the stage for further yield increases into the fall months. While that may hold trip, Hart says with such a sizable bump in what farmers will potentially harvest this fall, it may be an indication of how mature the crop is today.

"The idea is that once they make this move, they're thinking of moving in the direction of where it's finally going to end up," he adds. "Now, in this case, this is a fairly sizable jump, as we look at August to September. So, it'll be interesting to see as we move forward, if we get how much additional movement we get. The other thing I was looking at here, and I haven't seen the number yet, but how much of the crop when USDA surveyed and pulled those years, how much of it was fully mature, because I think this report may be running ahead of schedule, because the crop is maturing earlier."

Harvested acres for grain are expected to total 85.1 million acres, slightly higher than the 84.49 reported in August, and 3% above the 2020/2021 growing season.

Slightly Higher Soybean Yields/Production

The Crop Production report on Friday forecast soybean production to increase 1% from the August forecast, at 4.37 billion bushels. That’s 6% higher than last year’s final production number. Soybean yields are forecast to reach 50.6 bu. per acre nationwide, up 0.6 bu. per acre from August, and 0.4 bu. per acre above the 2020/2021 final yield number for soybeans.

The area harvested for soybeans was reduced less than 1%, now sitting at 86.4 million acres.

Cotton Crop Potential Climbs

The biggest production increase by USDA Friday came to cotton. USDA adjusted its all cotton production forecast 7% higher, now at 18.4 million, 480-pound bales. If the forecast holds true, that would be up 27% from last year’s final production number.

USDA also showed higher yields, with the new yield forecast of 895 pounds per harvested acre, which is 95 pounds above last month.

FSA Acreage

While USDA also updated the planted and harvested acreage numbers in Friday’s report, FSA caught the market by surprise when it released an update to planted acres early. The report was released on Wednesday, with the agency saying it was posted by accident. The updated planting numbers showed of September first, corn planted/failed acres are at 91.2 million, which is down from the 92.7 million acres previously reported.

For soybeans, FSA reported a reduction in acres, down to 86.2-million acres. That compares to the 87.6 million previously reported.

Wheat acres saw a bump in acres based on the updated FSA data. Planted wheat acres now sits at 49.3 million acres, which is up 2.6 million from the 46.7 million acres in the last report.

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