The U.S. corn market continues to be characterized by tight stocks and strong demand as farmers wrap up this year's harvest and look to next year's crop, according to economists with the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The Agriculture Department released its November crop report today, showing a U.S. corn crop of 12.3 billion bushels, a 1 percent drop from the October estimate. USDA also forecasts a further tightening of corn supplies at 843 million bushels in its November report, compared to 866 million bushels in its October estimate.
"USDA estimates that this year's corn crop will be the fourth largest ever, and it is a big crop, but demand is very strong and the U.S. will need every bushel of corn produced this year to meet the need for food and fuel and to rebuild supplies to a more comfortable level," said AFBF crops economist Todd Davis. "The story for 2012 will be the same as 2011. The U.S. will need more acreage, good yields and a bigger crop next year to meet demand and build supplies."
USDA forecasts an average U.S. yield of 146.7 bushels per acre in its November report, which would be the lowest average yield since 2003. Davis believes a factor in the yield decline was early frost in the northern tier of the Corn Belt, which reduced yields by 5 bushels per acre in Minnesota and 11 bushels per acre in North Dakota, compared to October.
Davis said USDA's November estimate is based on harvest surveys conducted from Oct. 25 to Nov. 4 and does not represent the total U.S. harvest because farmers in the eastern Corn Belt are still harvesting their crop. USDA's next and final estimate of the 2011 corn crop will be released in January and will include numbers on the total U.S. crop, according to Davis.
"When USDA conducted its November survey, just 34 percent of the Ohio corn crop and 41 percent of the Michigan corn crop was harvested, so there is a good chance that yields and production will decrease from this month's estimate," Davis said. "A smaller crop will place further strain on already tight stocks and support higher prices."