June 05, 2017

Crop Progress Reports & End of Season Yields

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Last week USDA released its first national corn condition rating of the season. The crop, as you’ll hear, wasn’t in great shape. While it doesn’t mean much at this time of year, there is a relationship between the first crop condition rating and the end of the season yield.

The weekly Crop Progress report is mostly the work of Extension and FSA employees, at the least the data collection part. They report local crop conditions to state USDA offices, mostly on Monday morning, who in-turn tally those numbers and pass them along to Washington, D.C. for compilation and release on Monday afternoon. Work at the University of Illinois shows a strong relationship between the end-of-season crop condition ratings and crop yield, however, agricultural economist Scott Irwin says that doesn’t hold so well for the rest of the season, “but, of course, what you really want to know is how soon do they become really predictive of final yields. Our analysis says they become pretty useful about mid-July for corn and not until about mid-August in soybeans”.

The first corn rating of the season, released just after Memorial Day, wasn’t good. the crop had been cold and wet. It showed up, or in this case didn’t show up, in the good and excellent categories USDA NASS uses. Those are the two grades the U of I economist say correlate. The math works like this; the first corn condition rating was 65% good or excellent, minus 8 points for the average drop to the end of the season rating, which brings you to 57% and then you plug that into the relationship the U of I presented in the article says Irwin, “and you end up with 164.3, basically on that set of calculations. It is an intriguing and pretty low number. Clearly that is not where the market is at and it is just one model, one exercise. Certainly, it is something to keep your eye on”.

“and you end up with 164.3”

If you do, in about mid-July you can use the math in the farmdocDaily article to forward calculate the national average yield for corn; mid-August for soybean.


June 01, 2017

Another Rough Income Year for Grain Farmers

It looks like 2017 will be another rough year for grain farmers in the United States. Even in Illinois, where the trend line yield for corn is 200 bushels to the acre and 61 for soybeans, the average income on a 1500 acre grain for this year is just $25,000. That’s not good says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey, “That $25,000 isn’t enough to cover all the family living withdrawals and capital purchase expenses needed for a family farm of this size. Seventy to eighty-thousand dollars is needed to be sustainable in the long run. So, we are looking, again, at some financial deterioration if these projections hold”.

That $25,000 isn’t enough to cover all the family living withdrawals and capital purchase expenses needed for a family farm of this size. Seventy to eighty-thousand dollars is needed to be sustainable in the long run.

It is a projection that wasn’t quite so low earlier in the year. Then, like today, Schnitkey was using an average cash sales price of $3.70 a bushel in the Illinois crop budget for corn. What has caused the University of Illinois forecast to come down is the decline in soybean prices. Earlier in the year it was $9.70 for price, but now it has come down and Schnitkey is using $9.00 in the 2017 soybean crop budget. Even this is above the current fall delivery price at about $8.85 in central Illinois.

University of Illinois 2017 Projected Crop Budgets


A decline in soybean prices to $9.00 likely will trigger 2017 ARC-CO payments, given county soybean yields are at trend levels. As a result, U of I’s 2017 projections build in a $15 per acre government payment. It won’t arrive until the fall of 2018, but an estimated $20 payment from last year’s crop should arrive this fall.

In 2017, revenue is projected to be $755 per acre for corn, down by $77 per acre from last year. Gross revenue for soybeans is projected at $564 per acre, $140 per acre lower than in 2016.


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