NCGA: Acreage report offers hope to hot, dry corn farms

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Record-breaking heat and dry conditions in much of the lower Midwest has caused a significant drop in overall corn crop condition, erasing a lot of the potential corn growers saw in spring as they planted their crops and looked forward to a season of plenty.

While higher corn acreage, which originally was meant to help moderate corn prices, may serve to ensure demands are met, higher prices are expected into the future as farmers see their crops dry up.

"Our hearts go out to the many farming families who are suffering from this weather pattern that has settled over the Corn Belt, and is as welcome as an electric blanket on a warm summer night. As farmers, we always want to grow the biggest and best crop possible; we want to do a good job, just like anyone else," said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, a grower near Auburn, Ill.

"One thing is certain: We farmers who have invested so much time and money into these endangered fields will not be the ones making money from high corn prices if we don't have the bushels to sell in the end."

In its annual acreage report today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that 96.4 million acres of corn were planted, 5 percent over 2011's planting and slightly above the projected planting reported in March. The new report estimated that 88.9 million acres will be harvested, 6 percent over 2011.

Dry and hot weather over most of the past month has significantly impacted crop condition. On May 20, 77 percent of the corn crop was rated good or excellent. As of June 24, that good-or-excellent rating had dropped to 56 percent.

While USDA started the season assuming a trend yield of 166 bushels per acres and production of 14.8 billion bushels, others have since then estimated the average yield to be in the mid-150s. For example one leading agricultural market analysis group recently reduced their estimated corn yield to just over 154 bushels per acre. Assuming a 154 billion bushel yield on the new acreage report's estimate for harvested acres means a crop of 13.7 billion bushels.

Perhaps having a more immediate impact on corn prices is the other USDA report released today, on the amount of grain stocks currently being reserved, both on and off the farm, for future uses. USDA reports that total corn stocks as of June 1 was 3.1 billion bushels, representing a 14 percent drop from the same time last year.

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