There is a debate currently going on in the U.S. over the state of the corn harvest. “The improvement in corn ratings raised our forecast of yields an average of .7 of 1% last week,” said Bryce Knorr the senior grain market analyst for Farm Futures. “Yields range from 168 to 170.4 bushels per acre. Big gains in Iowa and Nebraska accounted for much of the improvement.”
Harvest experts estimated a 44% completion rate for corn, but the USDA begs to differ. According to the government body’s crop progress report, corn yields were only at 38%, which was way below the estimates made by industry analysts. Trade estimates were ranged between 40% – 49%.
Bad harvest weather throughout late September and early October made the harvesting of the crop slow. However, farmers are hoping that they can catch up with their harvest now that the skies are clearer. Some major corn production states have harvested less than 1/4 of their crops including Iowa (23%), South Dakota (19%), Colorado (18%), North Dakota (17%), Wisconsin (15%), and Minnesota (14%). North Carolina, however, led the way in corn production and is estimated to be already at 95% completion.
Stink bugs and July’s strong heat waves may have slowed down corn production in North Carolina but farmers are now expecting slightly better yields during the last leg of the year. Early corn harvest results for North Carolina show a better than average corn yield, which are 200 or more bushels per acre.
Apart from farmers who grow and export corn, the sluggish production of the staple commodity seems to have affected the financial industry as well. In a report by Nadex, economists predict that corn prices may not rally soon given the low harvest numbers. According to the chart below, corn's futures prices are hitting at the bearish line (orange) at $353.50, and the mid-October high at only $354.00.
The condition of corn in some states marked as good to excellent went up from 1% to over 60%. The number of corn rated as good steadily settled at 50%. On the other hand, excellent grade corn improved from 1% to 16%. The harvested percentage of excellent-grade corn is 20% higher in some states including North Carolina, Nebraska, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Texas.
Dr. Ron Heiniger a professor of Crop Science and Cropping Systems Specialist at the North Carolina State University believes that there are 5 key elements for managing high corn yields within Eastern North Carolina, which includes proper planting dates, hybrid selection, plant population, application of a starter fertilizer, and proper nitrogen.
Last year’s USDA crop summary report showed that 2016 was a good year for North Carolina’s corn production. Even if the average yield of 129 bushels per acre in the state fell a bit shorter from the state's all-time high record, which was 142 bushels per acre in 2013, the total corn production was at 121 million bushels. Last year’s record was 47% higher than what was recorded in 2015.