(Posted Tue. May 5th, 2015)
As U.S. corn farmers kicked their planters into high gear, signals on the ground, in the sky and in the markets look promising for the 2015 crop.
“Last week, farmers across the country made incredible planting progress,” said National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jon Linder, who farms in Ohio. “The percentage of corn acres planted surged ahead of the five-year average and, by now, many farmers already have their entire crop in the ground. While the growing season will certainly still hold many surprises, all indicators currently point to another excellent corn harvest in 2015.”
The spring weather outlook is also favorable for the 2015 crop. Most of the U.S. Corn Belt is currently drought-free, with the exception of the Dakotas and some of Nebraska and Kansas. Drought areas in Minnesota and Wisconsin are generally north of the prime corn producing regions.
Another positive signal is the weak El Niño currently in effect. Weak El Niño conditions can result in Midwest crop yields as much as 10 percent above the trend line, according to an Iowa State University study.
Currently, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center reports a 70 percent chance that El Niño will continue in the Northern Hemisphere through this summer and a greater than 60 percent change it will last through autumn.
USDA’s corn supply and use report projects a 2015 corn crop of 14.2 billion bushels, an increase of 387 million bushels over last year.
While farmers aim to excel in their profession and, thus, to increase their yields, many have expressed concern about what increased production means for commodity prices. The USDA currently projects a corn price of $3.55 to $3.85 per bushel this year, highlighting the need for demand growth to support strong farm income.
“It is important, particularly in this environment, that we grow demand for this additional 400 million bushels of corn,” said Linder. “Markets abroad represent a significant opportunity, but we must remain competitive with other exporting nations.
“With trade promotion authority gaining forward momentum in Washington, and possible new free trade agreements on the horizon, we need Congress to act in support of farmers. We need a level playing field on which to compete so that we can grow corn exports not just for the good of farmers but of the American economy as a whole.”