N.D. corn crops fairing well as prices riseThe forecasts for the national corn crop have been going down as the temperatures have been rising this summer. The hot weather and lack of rain across the traditional corn belt of Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas has lowered estimates for yields in those areas.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The forecasts for the national corn crop have been going down as the temperatures have been rising this summer. The hot weather and lack of rain across the traditional corn belt of Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas has lowered estimates for yields in those areas.
That has been driving corn commodity prices higher.
“Prices are sky high,” said Bart Schott, corn grower in the Kulm area and former president of the National Corn Growers Association.
Corn future prices on the Chicago Board of Trade were slightly above $8 per bushel this week. Futures prices at the beginning of 2012 were $6.25 per bushel and had been as low as $3.50 per bushel in the summer of 2010.
Commodity futures are contracts to deliver crops in the future. They are traded on the Chicago Board of Trade.
This spring the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated a national average corn yield of 166 bushels per acre. On July 10, USDA lowered the estimate to 146 bushels per acre. A new report is scheduled Friday and Schott anticipates it will be lower yet.
“We polled the members of the (National Growers Growers Association) corn board at our last meeting,” Schott said. “We averaged them all together and came up with 131.7 bushels per acre.”
The Corn Board includes members from the corn-producing states. Members were asked to estimate the potential yields for their regions.
Yields here in North Dakota could vary widely, according to Mike Ostlie, agronomist for the Carrington Research Extension Center.
“Ultimately, yields will be real spotty depending on moisture,” he said. “We have a fair bit of moisture in the subsoil but even in North Dakota yields will be down.”
Ostlie said recent rains have come at an opportune time.
“Corn is filling kernels with a high need for water,” he said. “As long as the temperatures stay lower the corn seems to be doing all right.”
The best conditions for the rest of the growing season are not likely to yield a bumper crop of corn in North Dakota.
“As long as we get timely rains and no early frost we could be looking at a pretty average crop,” Ostlie said.
Even with lower yields nationally Schott does not anticipate any shortages of the commodity.
“A lot of acres planted could make up for the lower yields due to the weather,” he said. “We are concerned about the drought and its effect on corn but we planted a lot of acres. We won’t know what we’ve got until we get into the harvest.”
The number of acres planted to corn in 2012 totaled 96.4 million. This was an increase of 5 percent from 2011 and the most acres planted to corn in the United States since 1937.
“We don’t know how many acres will be harvested,” Schott said. “Some will be harvested as silage and some abandoned but we estimate about 88 million acres harvested. At our estimated yield that is about 11.6 billion bushels, which is a top five harvest for corn.”
That compares to about 13 billion bushels of corn produced in 2011.
Schott said despite the challenges, this year’s crop is adequate.
“We look for a crop that meets the needs for livestock feed, food, export and ethanol,” he said.
There have also been some reductions in demand especially for corn for ethanol production.
“That is a market-based decision by the people that use corn,” Schott said. “Ethanol plants are doing some planned shutdowns for maintenance. Some plants are scaling back production.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email