Drought reduces projected Iowa soybean yields

Size of the corn crop likely will continue to grow in the October USDA report, expert predicts

The drought that has gripped part of the Midwest in recent weeks has prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reduce projected soybean yields in Iowa.

Iowa soybean farmers are expected produce 405.5 million bushels, down 2 percent from the 413.9 million bushels in 2012. Soybean yield is forecast at 43 bushels per acre, which is down 3 bushels per acre from the USDA's Aug. 1 forecast.

Area harvested remains unchanged at 9.43 million acres.

Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.19 billion bushels — 17 percent above the 2012 production but 1 percent below the Aug. 1 forecast. Corn yields are expected to average 162 bushels per acre, up 25 bushels from 2012 but 1 bushel below the August forecast.

Acres harvested for grain remained unchanged at 13.5 million acres.

Don Roose, president of US Commodities in West Des Moines, said the USDA projections should alleviate concerns about major yield losses due to the effects of the drought and late development of the corn crop.

"It was cool right through the season and (corn) pollination," Roose said. "Corn was pretty far along before the massive heat hit and lack of moisture took a toll on the crop.

"It reduced yields, but it was pretty far along and had something already established."

Corn production nationally is projected at 13.8 billion bushels, up less than 1 percent from the USDA's August forecast and 28 percent above 2012. If realized, it would represent record production for the nation.

Yields are expected to average 155.3 bushels per acre, up 0.9 percent from last month's forecast and 31.9 bushels above 2012. If realized, it would be the highest average yield since 2009.

Corn harvested for grain is unchanged from the August forecast at 89.1 million acres.

Soybean production nationally is forecast at 3.15 billion bushels, down 3 percent from last month but up 4 percent from 2012. If realized, soybean production would be the fourth largest on record.

Soybean yields nationally are expected to average 41.2 bushels per acre, down 1.4 bushels per acre from last month, but an increase of 1.6 bushels per acre from 2012. Area for harvest is projected at 76.4 million acres, unchanged from August.

Roose said the size of the corn crop likely will continue to grow in the October USDA report and the soybean crop will continue to get smaller.

"Once you start yield movement, small crops get smaller and big crops get bigger," Roose said. "They've established a direction."

Roose said the USDA report shows global stocks of soybeans are expected to rise, which could affect market prices.

"We're going to watch South America very closely to see what's happening with their soybean production potential," Roose said.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map for Iowa shows the areas of moderate and severe drought stretching from border to border across the state. Linn and Johnson counties are included in that band of severe drought.

Roose said there is an increasing probability of moisture in the 6-to 10-day forecasts, but that could be too little, too late for some producers.

"Monday through Wednesday of next week, it looks like we will pick up some moisture and remain cooler," he said.

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