US corn harvest started, lower yields expected

27 August 2012 21:52  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The harvest of the 2012 US corn harvest is underway in many states with several farmers facing the prospect of bringing in a crop of poor quality, data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicated on Monday.

The USDA's weekly Crop Progress Report said that as of 26 August, 6% of the corn planted in the 18 top-producing states has been harvested, with 26% of the crop fully mature and waiting for combining.

The USDA said the percentage of the US corn crop rated as poor now stands at 26% while another 26% is rated as very poor.

The USDA said 26% of the corn crop is rated as fair, while 19% is rated as good and 3% rated as excellent.

In the same week a year ago, 42% of the corn crop was rated good while 12% was rated excellent.

The quality ratings for the soybean crop improved a notch as the USDA said 27% of the crop was good while 4% was excellent compared with ratings of 26% good and 4% excellent a week earlier.

The USDA said 38% of soybeans are rated as poor or very poor, a slight deterioration from the 37% rating of a week earlier.

On 10 August, the USDA forecast corn production at 10.8bn bushels, down 13% from 2011 and the lowest production since 2006.

Corn yields are expected by the USDA to average 123.4 bushels/acre, down 23.8 bushels from last year.

A group of independent crop experts this week pegged the corn crop to yield 10.6bn bushels, an average of about 121.5 bushels/acre.

Soybean production is forecast by the USDA at 2.69bn bushels, down 12% from 2011, and the lowest since 2003.

December corn futures closed at $8.01/bushel on Monday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, down about 23 cents/bushel from a week earlier. November soybeans closed at $17.19/bushel, up about 36 cents/bushel from the close on 20 August.

USDA crop quality ratings are an indication of future crop yields. Lower quality ratings generally translate to lower yields and can be an optimistic signal to commodity traders.

In the US this year, about 5bn bushels of corn will be used in the production of ethanol. Each bushel of corn on average yields 2.8 gal (10.6 litres) of ethanol.

US soybean oil provides about 50% of the feedstock for the domestic production of biodiesel. One bushel of soybeans yields enough oil to produce 1.5 gal of biodiesel.

US growers this year planted 96.4m acres (39.0m hectares) of corn and are now expected to harvest 87.4m acres, up 4% from last year, according to USDA estimates.

The USDA estimated that 73.9m acres of soybeans were planted this year, the third highest number of acres on record.

By: Frank Zaworski
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