USDA maintains record corn crop projection for 2011

09 June 2011 18:14  [Source: ICIS news]

USDA keeps forecast for record corn harvestHOUSTON (ICIS)--Despite major flooding and delayed spring planting, US farmers are still expected to harvest a record 13.2bn bushels of corn in 2011, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Thursday.

The projected 13.2bn-bushel corn harvest is down 300m from the 13.5bn bushels that were predicted by the USDA in March. However, it is still up by 753m bushels from the 2010 harvest.

The projected record crop would come from a planted area of 90.7m acres (36.7m ha), down from the 92.2m acres that the USDA had predicted in March.

The 2011 corn yield is projected at 158.7 bushels/acre, 3 bushels below the 1990–2010 trend, reflecting the slow pace of planting progress through early May.

"It is extremely early in the season and much will change between now and harvest," said Renewable Fuels Association vice president Geoff Cooper.

"Historical data has shown that the weather in July and August is a much more important factor in determining final yields than the planting date," Cooper said.

Total US corn use for the 2011/12 crop year (1 September–31 August) is projected down 1% from 2010/11, while corn used for ethanol is projected up 50m bushels to 5bn bushels, reflecting slow expected growth in gasoline consumption and continued export demand for ethanol in the coming year.

"[The USDA] is underestimating ethanol yield per bushel, which leads to overestimation of gross bushels used for ethanol," said Cooper.

The USDA reportedly assumes 1 bushel yields 2.7 gal (10.2 litres) of ethanol, while actual average ethanol yields have been 2.8 gal/bushel or higher, Cooper said.

Using the USDA's ethanol yield assumption, 5.05bn bushels would generate 13.64bn gal of ethanol, but using the industry average of 2.8 gal/bushel, production of 13.64bn gal would require 4.87bn bushels, said Cooper.

US soybean production is projected at 3.285bn bushels, down 44m from the 2010 crop, mostly as a result of lower harvested area.

Soybean yields are projected at a trend level of 43.4 bushels per acre, down 0.1 bushel from 2010.

Soybean supplies are projected at 3.47bn bushels, down less than 1% from 2010/11, as larger beginning stocks partly offset lower production.

Soybean oil used for biodiesel production is projected at 3.5bn lb (1.6bn kg), up 1bn lb from 2010/11 reflecting a higher biodiesel use mandate.

Soybean oil prices are projected at 56–60 cents/lb ($1,235-1,323/tonne, €852-913/tonne) compared with 53.5 cents for 2010/11.

In early trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, corn was at $7.66/bushel, trading up 2 cents/bushel from Wednesday, while soybeans were trading 5 cents lower at $13.98/bushel.

($1 = €0.69)

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