By Ryan Koory, senior economist, Mercaris
As we move into September, corn is maturing and soybeans are setting pods across much of the U.S. It is at this point that the market sets its focus on harvest, and begins to put together a picture of crop yields and understand implications for domestic supplies over 2018-19. Despite a wet spring putting a delay on planting and a dry summer that has battered farmland from Missouri to Texas, both organic corn and soybean yields look to be generally favorable for much of the U.S.
Mercaris estimates that U.S. organic corn yields will average 121.8 bushels per acre, up 0.5 percent year over year (y/y). While 0.5 percent may seem lackluster, any yield growth should be considered an accomplishment because drought played a role in limiting productivity in many corn-growing states.
States in the eastern Corn Belt are expected to achieve moderate gains in organic corn yields, with Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio seeing yield growth up 2 percent y/y. States in the northern and central portions of the Corn Belt are estimated to see yields mostly flat, or even down slightly, from the prior year.
While the corn picture is overall positive, it’s worth noting that Missouri and Texas both experienced drastic reductions in per-acre yields. Based on state-level crop condition data from the USDA, Mercaris estimates organic corn yields in Missouri could be down at least 15 percent from last year, down to 87.2 bu/acre or less. Texas also looks to have considerably lower organic corn yields this year with an estimated decline of 13 percent y/y to 106.0 bu/acre. Luckily, yield gains in other states will offset the poor performance in Missouri and Texas.
Compared to organic corn, organic soybean yields are on track to see more noteworthy gains this year, with the U.S. average expected to reach 35.9 bu/acre, up 4 percent y/y. With the majority of soy-growing states up 5 percent or more year over year—and double-digit growth in North Dakota and Illinois—in all, 2018 organic soybean yields are estimated to be particularly good.
Organic soybean producers in Missouri and Texas, however, were troubled by the same weather issues as their organic corn counterparts. Missouri’s organic soybean yields are expected to be down 6 percent y/y to 31.8 bu/acre. In Texas, the dip looks to be even more significant—with yields down 11percent y/y to 29.4 bu/acre. However, gains across the rest of the country should more than make up for lagging yields in Missouri and Texas.
Despite the weather issues, organic acres appear to be in generally good shape. Most states did see growth in yields for both organic corn and soy, with particularly strong performance in Nebraska. There, over 80 percent of both organic corn and soybean acres are rated as being in good-to-excellent condition the week ending August 12. Mercaris expects Nebraskan organic corn yields to reach 152.4 bu/acre, up 9 percent y/y, while organic soybean yields are estimated at 46.5 bu/acre, up 5 percent y/y.
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