Autumn the season of mellow fruitfulness is coming, but will there be enough grain to feed the world through the winter, and drive them to the markets?
The numbers for the US have not settled down yet. In March, according to Farmdoc the USDA was estimating that the corn harvest will be there would be around 12.46 billion bushels, 1.93 billion larger than the 2006 crop, based on March planting intentions. Farmdoc said at the time
that is about 170 million bushels above our forecast of most likely production.
The most recent numbers from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service* shows that on 1 August the projected corn harvest is 13bn bushels.
This compares with 4.8bn bushels in 1967, and an increase in yield/acre of 90.7% from 80.1 to 152 bushel/acre over that time.
So on the face of things we're laughing. But, as Soy Captial Ag Services, which surveyed an acre or so in McLean County and put the yield at 195 bushel/acre, says:
the heat and dry weather experienced since sampling and the weather from now until harvest will impact final yield results
It will be interesting to see after this year's harvest in the northern hemisphere is in, just how much or little excess grain there will in fact be to produce biofuels. We've had a very dry summer across much of Europe and that could affect yields.
If we then start trying to convert grain to ethanol, instead of bread, then the price of both will start to rise. If that happens, even oil at $70/bbl won't make ethanol any more profitable. If people start finding food is too expensive then governments will step in to conserve supplies of grain for food use.
I'll be looking at prospective consumption patterns and trying to get some global production figures.
(*The link is a pain you'll have to go here, search for All US, select corn and put in the dates you want -- very poor website, must do better)