South Dakota corn fields are bursting at the seams on the cusp of harvesting the state’s growing record crop, which took a 4 percent jump from last month’s USDA projections. South Dakota corn producers are weeks away from gulping in the forecasted 676.2 million bushels which beats last year’s level by 16 percent according to today’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Report.
The bin busting trend continues nationwide as collectively U.S. farmers are likely this fall to establish a new record for the amount of corn produced per acre of land. In the USDA projections, farmers are expected to produce a record 161.9 bushels per acre, a 5 percent increase over last year’s average yield and 1.5 bushels/acre higher than the previous record set in 2004. USDA expects total corn production to reach 13 billion bushels, a 7 percent increase over last year and the second-largest crop on record.
Even though a swollen crop awaits combine collection, South Dakota’s corn crop is behind normal maturity levels compared to previous years due to cool summer temperatures and ample moisture levels. According to the USDA Ag Statistics Service, 85 percent of the corn in the state is in or beyond the dough stage, compared to 92 percent last year and 94 percent for the five-year average. Forty-two percent of corn is in the dent stage, compared to the five year average of 67 percent. Corn in the mature stage is at 2 percent and equal to last year, but behind the five-year average of 9 percent.
“Producers’ hard work and nurturing of their crop will be rewarded by a vibrant harvest if the USDA projections are realized in coming weeks. The crop report indicates an encouraging picture in our corn fields this fall while our crop is in a race with Mother Nature to completely mature before the year’s first freeze,” said Bill Chase, president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. “As always, weather will be the key factor to final success but producers are proud to provide our livestock and ethanol industries as well as our export partners the confidence of ample supply.”
The USDA report indicates an eagerness for the extra bushels as feed and residual use was raised 50 million bushels based on higher expected production. Exports are also expected to raise 100 million bushels with higher projected imports for Canada and lower production in South America. Ending stocks are projected 14 million bushels higher.
According to the Renewable Fuels Association, just 15 years ago 35 million more acres of corn would have been needed to produce the equivalent of this year’s crop. Because of advancements in farming and seed technology, farmers can produce far more per acre, reducing the need for total crop acreage.
“The ample supply being harvested by American farmers clearly collapses the flimsy, unsubstantiated claims that increased biofuel production would lead to conversion of non-agricultural land to cropland in the United States and abroad,” said Chase. “And as corn prices reflect the supply, the tired old food and fuel debate is done.”
As is often the case, production and price levels are inversely related as the price per bushel went down this month compared to last month’s USDA report. The 2009/2010 marketing-year average farm price is projected lower at $3.05 to $3.65 per bushel, compared with $3.10 to $3.90 per bushel last month.
“Marketing will be key for producers particularly in a year with narrow profit margins considering the possibility of extra inputs from drying down a potential wet corn crop,” said Chase. “With savvy marketing skills and utilization of risk management tools available to them, South Dakota producers will continue to fuel the state’s economic growth as its number one industry.”