One perspective on high yield for 2014 U.S. corn and soybeans
A related question is what would U.S. yield be if every state attained its record yield at the same time? This question builds upon an observation made by Gary Schnitkey in his March 25, 2014 farmdoc daily article, "Causes of High U.S. Corn Yields: Evaluation of County Yields," available here). Gary observed, "corn yields have to be above average across the vast majority of the corn-belt counties for the U.S. to have a corn yield significantly above trend." Thus, the historical record high yield in each state was identified and this yield was then multiplied by the state's harvested acres projected for 2014 by USDA, NASS in the June 30 Acreage report. The estimated production was then summed across all states and divided by the number of U.S. harvested acres projected for 2014. Yields of 169.8 and 46.9 resulted (Figure 4). These yields are almost 5 and 3 bushels per acre higher than the record U.S. yield for corn and soybeans, respectively. This difference illustrates that it is very unusual for all of the U.S. to have the same weather, in the case record yield weather. Given this observation, it is worth noting that the highest share of corn rated very poor and poor is only 10% in Minnesota and 9% in Kansas in the June 30 Crop Progress report. For soybeans, the comparable shares are 11% for Louisiana, 10% for Minnesota, and 9% for Arkansas. Thus, while some areas in the U.S. are not favorable due to dryness or excessive moisture, the current crop conditions report suggests the U.S. record yield estimate based on record state yields is a relevant consideration.
As noted above, the record U.S. yields for corn and soybeans occurred in 2009. But, it seems reasonable to assume that the entire yield distribution is trending upward, not just the average yield. One assumption is that record high yields are trending up at the same rate as average yield. To illustrate for U.S. soybeans, the high yield is 44.0 bushels per harvested acre in 2009 (Figure 4). Since U.S. soybean yield is increasing 0.43 bushels per year, the trend adjusted record U.S soybean yield for 2014 is 46.1 bushels (44.0 + 5 years times 0.43) (Figure 5). For U.S. corn, the comparable yield is 173.3 bushels per harvested acre. The same type of adjustment can be made to each state yield using its record yield adjusted for its trend and brought forward to 2014. For example, for Illinois corn, record yield is 180.0 bushels in 2004 and its trend yield increase is 1.75 bushels per year. The resulting 2014 trend adjusted high yield estimate is 197.5 bushels (180 + 10 years times 1.75). The U.S. high yield estimate that results from applying the trend adjustment to state record yields is 177.7 for corn and 49.3 for soybeans (Figure 5). It is important to underscore the assumption that record yield is increasing at the same rate as average yield. Disagreement exists about this assumption, but disagreement exists on both sides -- that record high yields are increasing faster and are increasing slower than average yields. Whatever your view on this issue, it is important to understand the role of this assumption in deriving the third set of high yield estimates.
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