Bloomberg News

Soy, Corn Yields Seen Less Than USDA Estimates on Midwest Tour

August 23, 2013

Samples taken from soybean and corn fields across the Midwest this week showed more yield loss than expected from unusually cool, dry weather in July, signaling the government may have to reduce its crop forecasts next month.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture probably will cut its soybean-crop estimate by 2.5 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey of eight participants in a seven-state tour of more than 2,600 fields sponsored by the Professional Farmers of America. The government’s corn-harvest forecast may fall by 1.5 percent, a survey of nine crop scouts showed. Final yield estimates from the four-day annual tour will be released later today.

After a wet May and June delayed planting, the USDA cut its soy-crop forecast by 4.8 percent on Aug. 12 and reduced its corn estimate for a third straight month. July was the 20th coldest in 119 years in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, the top U.S. grower, National Weather Service data show. Soybean futures are up 12 percent from an 18-month low on Aug. 7, and corn rose 4.2 percent from a 35-month low on Aug. 13.

“There is more variability in corn and soybeans than I expected before this week’s tour,” Bennett Meier, a New York-based market analyst for Morgan Stanley, said in an interview in Rochester, Minnesota. “The crop is immature and at increased risk of damage from freezing temperatures and crop losses” in September or early October, he said.

The government cut its soybean-crop forecast for 2013 to 3.255 billion bushels on Aug. 12, down from 3.39 billion in May, and the corn estimate was cut to 13.763 billion bushels, compared with a record 14.14 billion predicted in May. USDA is scheduled to release updated production forecasts on Sept. 12.

Freeze Risk

The cool, wet planting season and below-average summer temperatures are similar to 1996 and 1908, when freezing temperatures in late September or early October damaged crops, Dan Hicks, a meteorologist for Freese-Notis Weather, said in a client report on Aug. 21.

U.S. crops need heat, rain and a late-arriving frost to reach maturity, Nick Hanson, field agronomist for the Pioneer seed-making unit at DuPont Co. (DD:US), said in Spencer, Iowa.

Soybean-pod counts per 3 square feet in four of the top five producing states, including Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, are down from the three-year average, Pro Farmer data this week show. The growth stage in Iowa, the largest producer, was measured this week at 8.9 percent below the prior three-year average, Pro Farmer data show.

“The soybean crop we saw this week is about six weeks behind average,” Peter Meyer, senior director for Pira Energy Group in New York, said in an interview yesterday after touring fields from Ohio to Minnesota. “I have to wonder if we can match last year’s production numbers,” said Meyer, who forecast domestic production at 3.022 billion bushels.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net; Jen Skerritt in Winnipeg at jskerritt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net


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