Focus on Ag: Sept. 10 USDA report increases production expectations

Kent Thiesse
Farm Management Analyst and Vice President, MinnStar Bank
Kent Thiesse

The Sept. 10 USDA crop report increased the projected U.S. average corn and soybean yields for 2021 from numbers previously reported in August.

The latest NASS yield estimates were based on U.S. crop conditions as of Sept. 1 and were the first 2021 yield USDA estimates that included actual field data, including in some of states with major impacts from this year’s drought.

USDA made some fairly large increases in estimated 2021 corn and soybean yields in some states, which is being questioned by some private analysts due to the continuing drought conditions in many portions of the western Corn Belt. Total U.S. corn acreage was also increased in the latest USDA report, compared to the August acreage estimate. 

The Sept. 10 USDA report projects the 2021 national average corn yield at 176.3 bushels per acre, which is an increase of 1.7 bushels per acre from the August estimate. The projected 2021 U.S. corn yield compares to 172 bushels per acre in 2020 and is well above the 2019 national average corn yield of 167.4 bushels per acre. The 2021 U.S. corn yield would be just below the 2018 yield of 176.4 bushels per acre and the record U.S. average corn yield of 176.6 bushels per acre in 2017.

USDA increased the total 2021 harvested corn acreage in the U.S. by 600,000 acres, which was based on crop acreage certification data filed by producers through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. USDA is now estimating total U.S. corn production for 2021 at just under 15 billion bushels, which would be an increase of 6% from the 2020 production of 14.2 billion bushels and compares to 13.6 billion bushels in 2019. 

USDA is estimating Minnesota’s 2021 average corn yield at 174 bushels per acre, which was an increase of 8 bushels per acre from the August estimate. The projected 2021 corn yield would still be well below the 2020 statewide average yield of 192 bushels per acre and would be similar to the 2019 yield of 173 bushels per acre.

The previous statewide record average corn yield was 194 bushels per acre in 2017. The Sept. 10 report also increased Iowa’s 2021 average corn yield by 5 bushels per acre compared to the August estimate, raising the projected yield to 198 bushels per acre.

If achieved, Iowa’s 2021 statewide corn yield projection would be the same as the 2019 yield; however, the 2021 yield would be considerably higher than the 2020 yield of 178 bushels per acre that was reduced by the derecho storm. Iowa’s record corn yield was 203 bushels per acre in 2016. 

The 2021 USDA corn yield estimates for the other major corn producing states are as follows:

  • Illinois: 214 bushels per acre (compared to 192 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • Indiana: 197 bushels per acre (compared to 187 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • Nebraska: 188 bushels per acre (compared to 181 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • Wisconsin: 172 bushels per acre (compared to 174 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • South Dakota: 133 bushels per acre (compared to 162 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • North Dakota: 108 bushels per acre (compared to 139 bushels per acre in 2020)

The USDA report on Sept. 10 estimated total 2021 U.S. soybean production at just over 4.37 billion bushels, which would be up 6% from the 2020 soybean production of just over 4.13 billion bushels. USDA increased the projected 2021 U.S. average soybean yield slightly to 50.6 bushels per acre, compared to 50 bushels per acre in the August report.

The 2021 NASS soybean yield estimate compares to 50.2 bushels per acre in 2020, 47.4 bushels per acre in 2019, 51.6 bushels per acre in 2018, 49.1 bushels per acre in 2017 and the record national average soybean yield of 52 bushels per acre in 2016. The USDA 2020 soybean yield projection is fairly close to the yield estimates by many grain trading analysts. 

USDA is estimating Minnesota’s 2021 average soybean yield at 47 bushels per acre, which was increased by 4 bushel per acre from the August estimate. The 2021 yield compares to recent statewide yields of 49 bushels per acre in 2020, 44 bushels per acre in 2019, 50.5 bushels per acre in 2018, 47 bushels per acre in 2017 and the record state soybean yield of 52.5 bushels per acre in 2016.

The estimated 2021 soybean yield for Iowa was increased by 1 bushel per acre from the August estimate and is now projected at 59 bushels per acre. The 2021 statewide yield compares to 53 bushels per acre in 2020, 55 bushels per acre in 2019, 57 bushels per acre in 2018, 56.5 bushels per acre in 2017 and the state record yield of 60.5 bushels per acre in 2016.

Other projected 2021 yields in major soybean producing states include:

  • Illinois: 64 bushels per acre (compared to 59 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • Indiana: 60 bushels per acre (compared to 58 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • Nebraska: 59 bushels per acre (compared to 57 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • Wisconsin: 49 bushels per acre (compared 51 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • South Dakota: 38 bushels per acre (compared to 45.5 bushels per acre in 2020)
  • North Dakota: 25 bushels per acre (compared to 33.5 bushels per acre in 2020)

Total combined 2021 harvested soybean acreage in the drought-stricken states of North Dakota and South Dakota is estimated at 12.7 million acres, which is higher than soybean acreage in either Iowa or Illinois.

Sept. 10  WASDE report

The USDA World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) that was also released on Sept. 10 included the projected increases in the 2021 U.S. corn yield and the total corn production. The report also showed slight increase in expected corn usage for ethanol and livestock feed during 2021-2022 marketing year, as compared to the 2020-2021 corn usage in both categories.

U.S. corn export levels for 2021-2022 are expected to decline slightly from record export levels in the just completed 2020-2021 marketing year. The 2021-2022 U.S. corn exports are now now estimated at 2.475 billion bushels, which is down from the corn export total of 2.745 billion bushels in 2020-2021 but is still well above the 2019 final corn exports of 1.777 billion bushels.

Total corn usage for 2021-2022 is now estimated at 14.8 billion bushels and corn ending stocks are projected at just over 1.4 billion bushels, which is an increase from a carryover of slightly over 1.24 billion bushels in the August WASDE report. The latest 2021-2022 corn ending stocks projection compares to ending stocks of just under 1.19 billion bushels in the just completed 2020-2021 marketing year and 1.92 billion bushels in 2019-2020. The USDA 2021-2022 corn carryover level was slightly higher than the average estimates by grain trading analysts. 

USDA is projecting the average on-farm corn price for the 2021-2022 marketing year, which extends from Sept.1, 2021, through Aug. 31, 2022, to be $5.45 per bushel, which is a decrease of $0.30 per bushel from the August price estimate. The 2020-2021 national average corn price, which will be finalized on Sept. 30, is estimated at $4.45 per bushel, which compares to previous national average prices of $3.56 per bushel in 2019-2020, $3.61 per bushel for 2018-2019, and 3.36 per bushel for both 2017-2018 and 2016-2017.

The recent WASDE report projected 2021-2022 soybean ending stocks at 185 million bushels, which is an increase of 30 million bushels from the August estimate. The 2021-2022 soybean ending stocks compares to previous ending stocks of 175 million bushels in 2020-2021, 525 million bushels in 2019-2020 and 909 million bushels in 2018-2019. Soybean exports for 2021-2022 are projected at 2.09 billion bushels, which is down from an estimated 2.26 billion bushels in 2020-2021 but is still well-above the 2019-2020 export level of 1.68 billion bushels.

USDA is now projecting the average on-farm soybean price for the 2021-2022 marketing year at $12.90 per bushel, which is a decrease of $0.80 per bushel from the August price estimate. The 2020-2021 estimated final national average soybean price is estimated at $10.90 per bushel, which compares to national average prices of $8.57 per bushel for 2019-2020, $8.48 per bushel in 2018-2019, and $9.33 in 2017-2018.

For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst and senior vice president, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minn., at (507) 381-7960 or kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com, or visit www.minnstarbank.com.