(Posted Mon. Sep 12th, 2011)

Sept. 12: The United States is still on track to produce the third-largest corn crop on record, estimated to total 12.5 billion bushels of corn, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports released this morning. Despite U.S. corn farmers facing several major weather events that negatively impacted much of the production acreage, causing national average yield estimates to drop to 148.1 bushels per acre, the world corn stocks projection has increased, more than offsetting the reduction projected for the country.


“We have heard from many of our peers across the country about what’s going on in their fields and their expectations come harvest, and we have seen first-hand some of the problems of a very difficult year in important areas of the Corn Belt,” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott, a grower from Kulm, N.D. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost all or some of their crops this year. Even as many farmers struggle to rebuild, we know that the resilient, independent spirit of the American farmer will prevail.”


This spring, rain and flooding delayed planting in much of the Corn Belt while flooding and blown levies along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers caused growers to lose planted acres. In Texas and much of the South, scorching heat and drought devastated the crop while abnormally high temperatures in July and August impacted a large area of the Corn Belt to a lesser extent. As harvest approached, many farms along the Atlantic Seaboard were devastated as Hurricane Irene pounded the operations with strong winds and heavy rain. On top of all this, hail and high winds impacted thousands of acres in the Midwest during the growing season.


Even in light of these events, it is important to keep the final production estimates in perspective, realizing that a 12.5 billion bushel harvest would still be the third-largest on record. Only 10 years ago, the average yield nationally was 138 bushels per acre and production totaled only 9.5 billion bushels. The decade before that, the average yield reached only 107 bushels per acre nationally and production totaled only 7.5 billion bushels. Even as estimates are revised down to account for the damage done to the 2011 crop by weather, the strides made through innovative technology and techniques continually allow growers to excel even under difficult circumstances.


“This year’s crop clearly illustrates the need for a sound farm policy that includes crop insurance and the risk management tools necessary for our country to provide critical assistance to farmers when they face crop losses due to adverse weather conditions,” said Schott. “We also recognize from past years the need for support in the face of crop disease or volatile markets. We hope that this lesson remains prominent in the minds of our legislators as they discuss the 2012 farm bill and find ways to deliver aid to farmers when they need it that is faster, simpler and smarter.”


In addition, Schott noted, the marketplace will respond to make sure all needs are covered. World corn ending stocks are projected up 2.9 million tons from August, with increases in South America and Europe more than offsetting the reduction projected for the United States. Further, distillers grains from ethanol production provides a high-quality, high-value feed product for livestock producers, displacing more than 1.2 billion bushels of corn in livestock rations this marketing year in the United States and abroad.