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May 15, 2013

2013 U.S. Corn Yield Estimate Remains 155-156 bu/ac

Barring any additional prolonged periods of wet weather, it looks like approximately 50% to 60% of the corn is going to be planted during the second half of May when corn yields on average start to decline. With that being the case, I think we need to be cautious concerning the potential corn yield and as a result, the 2013 U.S. corn yield estimate remained unchanged this week at 155-156 bu/ac.

In the May WASDE report released last Friday, they used a corn yield of 158 bu/ac compared to the 163.6 bu/ac used in the February Outlook meeting. The cited reason for the lower yield estimate was the delayed planting progress, but the yield estimate was lowered a little more aggressively than what the market had anticipated.

As expected, the WASDE Report used the corn acreage from the March Prospective Planting Report (97.3 million acres) with 92% of those acres being harvested for grain production (89.5 million acres). The corn planted estimate may be a little optimistic given the planting delays being experienced across the Corn Belt.

I am going to estimate that 1-2 million acres of intended corn may eventually be switched to soybeans or claimed as prevent plant acres. This is less than what I had estimated several weeks ago (1-3 million acres not planted to corn) because the flooding along the Red River in North Dakota turned out to be much less severe than what had been anticipated. The source of the potential reduced corn acres could come from the northwestern Corn Belt, the Delta, and isolated regions in the heart of the Corn Belt.

If corn planting is significantly delayed, farmers must make a decision about what to do with their intended corn acreage. Before deciding to switch to soybeans, many farmers prefer to exchange their later maturing corn hybrids to earlier maturing hybrids, but this year, the availability of the shorter maturing hybrids is going to be limited. As a result, if planting is delayed until late May and farmers cannot switch to earlier maturing hybrids, their latest planted acres may be switched to soybeans instead.