The difficult corn-production scenario that farmers have foreseen for the 2019 season – and have mentioned to AccuWeather – appears to be playing out, despite higher-than-expected estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A total of 125 participants initially took part in the four-day Pro Farmer Crop Tour this week, a seven-state boots-on-the-ground analysis of crop conditions from Ohio to South Dakota. And the results reflect how rain and flooding caused such early difficulties in the Corn Belt this year.
In Ohio, corn yield potential on the tour was estimated at 154.35 bushels per acre, a whopping drop from 2018’s tour estimate of 179.57 for the state and the three-year average of 164.38. In South Dakota, corn yield potential was estimated at 154.08 bushels per acre, far below the 2018 tour estimate of 178.01.
Ohio and South Dakota were two of the worst-hit states by early-weather planting problems. Comparatively, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska are faring better, though still below last year’s numbers.
For example, the corn yield potential on the tour was estimated at 170.37 bushels per acre for Minnesota, compared to 178.67 in 2018 and the three-year average of 184.18.
As a result of the latest analysis, AccuWeather estimates corn yield will be significantly lower than 2018 production in all five of the top 2018 corn-producing states. In order, those states are Iowa (17.4% of U.S. corn production), Illinois (15.8%), Minnesota (9.4%), Nebraska (7.9%) and Indiana (6.8%).
All five states are estimated to see production drop from 6% to 19% compared to 2018, with Illinois at the high end of the estimate, according to AccuWeather’s analysis. Also, Ohio, the 8th-largest U.S. corn-producing state, will have a yield estimated to be roughly 18% lower.
“The latest Pro Farmer Crop Tour estimates back AccuWeather’s belief that the yield estimates are lower than the USDA’s,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls. “However, some western states are a little better than initially believed.
“The weather the next six weeks also will have a say in final production numbers,” Nicholls added. “Any stretches of cool weather, such as the one expected the middle of next week, will lower the probability of the crop maturing before the first frost.”
AccuWeather now forecasts a 2019 corn yield of 13.28 billion bushels from 79.5 million acres harvested.
On Monday, the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report showed an estimated 82 million acres of corn harvested with a yield of an estimated 13.90 billion bushels of corn. That would be lower than 2018 (14.42 billion bushels) but above what many in the industry expect.
As for the tour, unfortunately, perhaps echoing the tensions of the difficult 2019 season, a phone threat was made to a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) employee while on the Pro Farmer Crop Tour Wednesday from someone not involved with the tour, according to the hosts, Pro Farmer. As a precaution, the USDA immediately pull all of its staff out of the event; Federal Protective Services is investigating the incident.