CHICAGO — Yield surveys in 29 states didn’t find the bushels that last month’s U.S. Department of Agriculture report estimated and there’s across-the-board concern if the late-planted crops can finish out.

Allendale Inc., a agricultural commodity brokerage and analysis firm, conducted its 30th annual nationwide producer yield survey Aug. 19-30 and estimated the U.S. average corn yield at 167.71 bushels per acre and soybeans at 46.13 bushels per acre.

The USDA projected yields at 169.46 for corn and 48.51 for soybeans in its August report.

The surveys were conducted direct by Allendale brokers (56%), as well as from farmers via the Allendale website and social media platforms (44%).

The top 12 crop-producing states were included in the survey, covering 86% of the U.S. corn production and 83% of the nation’s soybean production.

No adjustment for maturity concerns were made in this survey.

“Our corn yields suggested to expect a minor decline in the USDA yield numbers on the September report and the corn production decline is 146 million bushels,” said Rich Nelson, Allendale chief strategist.

“The soybean production of 3.499 billion bushels is down from 3.68 billion the previous month from USDA. So, we have a 181 million bushel decline on soybean production.

“That’s really interesting because in a lot of our surveys producers did say on corn, at least as far as anecdotal discussions, is the corn looks good and their question is with maturity.

“With soybeans, we did hear maybe just a few more questions regarding the crop itself. Perhaps not just a maturity issue, which is a valid one, but also with the idea of just yield in general, as well. So, people maybe had a little bit more hesitation with the soybean yield discussion.”

Survey Results

2018 USDA — August Allendale
CORN YIELD
Iowa 196 191 192
Illinois 210 181 178
Indiana 189 166 163
SOYBEAN YIELD
Iowa 57 55 53
Illinois 65 55 49
Indiana 58.5 50 46

Most of the corn yield estimates in the western Corn Belt were at or near USDA’s August estimates. However, South Dakota’s 146 bushels per acre in the survey is down 11 from USDA. North Dakota’s 141 bushels per acre estimate is five below last month’s USDA estimate.

In the eastern Corn Belt, the survey estimated Ohio corn yields of 154 bushels per acre, down six from USDA.

The yield story was about the same for soybeans, with the western Corn Belt estimates near or at USDA’s August estimates. South Dakota was an exception with the survey indicating 37 bushels per acre, down eight from USDA’s previous guess.

There was more variation in the eastern Corn Belt compared to USDA’s soybean yield numbers. Illinois was down six bushels from USDA, Indiana down four, Ohio down five and Michigan down nine bushels.

Maturity

A concern across much of the Corn Belt is whether corn and soybeans will reach maturity before frost.

“Maturity is going to be the key issue. Our survey didn’t find as much of a big concern from what producers told us directly as far as our best guess on crop maturity. However, there’s a big variation within each state of windows when the crops finish out,” Nelson said.

“So, certainly a September frost or freeze would set these crops back quite a bit, and even an early October or mid-October cold weather snap would be problematic for a good portion of the crops. So, we’re not out of the woods on this issue yet.”

Markets

The survey found soybean yields lower than expected. Nelson doesn’t believe that will give the soybean market a rally, but it “could stabilize some of the price decline seen in recent weeks.

“Improvement in prices based on maturity issues, which we do think is a valid concern, may not be coming, though, in the very short term. It will probably be an issue where the market has to see something happen before it wants to stabilize and rally and get prices going and perhaps see some lower yield numbers after October and beyond,” he said.

Survey Surprise

Nelson said he was a little surprised by the strength of the corn yields in the survey. He expected to see yields in the 165 to 166 bushels per acre range.

“I do think the market has probably like a 167, 166 priced in. So, the market is priced in with the belief, yes, we’re going to have a small setback in yields, but nothing of concern just yet. I do think that’s a valid discussion on the corn. On the soybean end, I would probably suggest that maybe this survey number is just a little bit lower than where the market is pricing right now,” he said.

Nelson doesn’t anticipate any major changes by USDA in yield estimates until down the road.

“Historically the big changes on yield often come in the October and beyond reports. So, that’s where I think we will see some of these issues shown. USDA is generally not for looking at the forecast ahead. So, if we go into USDA’s report day and there’s no major threat in the past few days, they’re going to say here’s the yield numbers as they stand right now,” Nelson said.

“We do think that maturity is a very valid issue and think the maturity issues will peel back some of these yields in October and beyond.”

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or tdoran@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.

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