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October 17, 2017

October Crop Report - Split Decision for U.S. Corn and Soybeans

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

In the October Crop Report, the USDA increased the 2017 U.S. corn yield while they lowered the U.S. soybean yield. The corn yield came as a bit of a surprise, but the soybean yield can in as expected.

Corn - The October corn yield was increased 1.9 bu/ac to 171.8 bu/ac, which is now the second highest corn yield on record. The U.S. corn yield could still move a little higher as the harvest pace picks up in the northern areas where yields are coming in much better than expected.

The corn harvest pace dropped further behind last week with 28% harvested compared to 44% last year and 47% average. Harvest is particularly slow in the western and northwestern Corn Belt with Minnesota at 7% (31% behind the average of 38%), North Dakota at 8% (21% behind the average of 29%), South Dakota at 12% ( 27% behind the average of 39%), Iowa at 13% (28% behind the average of 41%), and Nebraska at 17% (22% behind the average of 39%). The corn harvest pace in the eastern Corn Belt is also somewhat delayed, but not as delayed as the western Corn Belt.

I think the "take-home" message from this year's growing season has to be that the U.S. corn crop can absorb a lot of adverse weather during the growing season and still end up with very good yields. If the last few years have taught us anything it is that we should not be too concerned about excessive moisture early in the season. The next time we have a "wet spring", we should assume it is going to be a good corn crop. The cool temperatures during August also were very beneficial, so the next time August temperatures are cool - think big corn crop.

With the improved genetics of the current corn hybrids, it would take a significant drought to hurt the U.S. corn crop. The current hybrids can withstand short periods of adverse weather with little impact on the final yield.

Soybeans - For the U.S. soybean crop, the season is not ending on as strong a note as the corn crop. The October soybean yield was lowered 0.4 bu/ac to 49.5 bu/ac and I would not be surprised if it declined a little more in November or January to end up near 49.0 bu/ac. The soybean crop benefited from cool weather during August and improved conditions in the western Corn Belt that started about mid-August. The good weather continued into September, which turned out to be much warmer than expected.

Even though the soybean crop ended up better than what had been expected earlier in the summer, it was hurt by late summer dryness in parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

The U.S. soybean harvest is also slower than normal with 49% harvested compared to 59% last year and 60% average. The slowest harvest pace is also in the western and northwestern Corn Belt with Iowa at 32% (34% behind the average of 66%), Nebraska at 33% (34% behind the average of 67%), Minnesota at 45% (37% behind the average of 82%), and South Dakota at 48% (30% behind the average of 78%). The soybean harvest pace in the eastern Corn Belt is about average or ahead of average.