Special Edition: Grain Market Developments

US corn production drops even as record crop projected

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/melcowell
© iStock/melcowell

Related tags Bushels Maize

The US is expected to see a drop in production for the current corn crop, but it remains the largest ever at 15,057m bushels, says the US Department of Agriculture.

The USDA’s Feed Outlook report​ detailed the expected feed corn crop, along with movement for other feed grains and grasses including sorghum, barley, oats and hay.

Total feed grain production for 2016/17 is expected to be about 399.6m metric tons, a drop of 1.4m metric tons from last month, said the USDA. However, the amount produced last year was 366.7m tons.

Total usage for 2016/17 however, was improved from last month to 388.1m tons, the department said.

Beginning stocks were increased to 48.1m tons, said the department. And, the total feed grain supply for 2016/17 is expected to be 451m tons rather than the 417.3m seen in 2015/16.

Corn details

The current corn crop is still on pace to surpass the past record, 14,216m bushels, which was set in 2014, said the USDA. However, exports did see an increase and ending stocks fell slightly.

Higher forecast harvested acres were offset by a 1-bushel per acre reduction in yield,”​ the department said. “At 173.4 bushels per acre, yield is five bushels per acre greater than last year. Carryin from 2015/16 is raised 22m bushels, giving total supplies for 2016/17 of a record-high 16,845m bushels.”

The corn crop saw a slight bump in price, as the midpoint price increased by $0.05 to $3.25, said the US agency.

Ending stocks dropped by 63m bushels with the reduced supply and improvement in use, reported the USDA. “Ending stocks are still the highest since the mid-1980s,”​ it added.

Exports are expected to improve by about 50m bushels this month to about 2,225m bushels.

“Corn imports are more than double the 32m bushels in 2014/15, with increases across the organic, seed, and feed categories,” ​said the USDA. “Organic shipments represented 30% of total imports, seed corn 11%, and corn for feed 59%.”

Other feed grains

Sorghum production for 2016/17 was reduced based on area, noted the US agency. However, the crop is forecast to produce record yields at about 77.2 bushels an acre.

“The 467m bushel crop is down 130m bushels from 2015/16,” ​said the department. “Combined with a 1.5m bushel increase in carryin, supply is projected at 504m bushels, 20m below last month’s forecast and 115m below 2015/16.”

Ending stocks for the feed crop also were reduced by 10m bushels to about 44m bushels.

“Imports in 2015/16 totaled 4.6m bushels, compared with the previous forecast of 5m,” ​said the USDA. “Total supply is now set at 620m bushels, 153m greater than 2014/15’s 467m.”

Exports for 2015/16 were lowered to 338.6m bushels, with more than 80% of the US exports in August heading to China and 7% going to Mexico – the next largest buyer, said the USDA. “Shipments in 2015/16 were 13m below the 352m in 2014/15,”​ it added.

Barley production for 2016 is expected to be down about 9% from 2015. Acreage planted in 2016 was reduced by about 16% and harvested area was down by 19%.

However, yield per acre increased from last year’s production, said the USDA. “Average yield per acre, at 77.9 bushels, is up 8.8 bushels from the previous year and is the highest yield on record since estimates began in 1866,”​ it noted

Use improved to 223m bushels, but export volume declined in September, said the agency.

Acreage of oats harvested dropped from earlier expectations, although yield remained constant at 66 bushels an acre, said the department. Total production is predicted to be 65m bushels.

“Carryin is raised 6,000 bushels to 57m bushels and imports, primarily from Canada, are projected at 90m bushels, making total supplies 212m bushels, 17m below 2015/16,” ​said the department. “With lower supplies, feed and residual use is projected 5m bushels lower to 90m. Stocks are reduced 7m bushels to 47m.”

The US is expected to import more oats than it produces in 2016/17, with about 90m bushels coming from Canada, said the USDA.    

Hay production is set to be up by about 7m tons from 2015, it reported. The increase is based on area and yields – the all-hay yield is set at 2.52 tons an acre.

“Production of alfalfa hay and alfalfa mixtures is forecast at 62.8m tons, up from the August forecast and up 7% from 2015,” ​said the USDA. “Yields are forecast to average 3.45 tons per acre, a slight increase relative to the 3.33 tons per acre producers harvested in 2014.”

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