In The News

Feb 16, 2024

Breaking Down 5 Projections in the USDA 2024 Corn Outlook

Key Issues: Production

Author: Krista Swanson

USDA released the Grains and Oilseeds Outlook this week providing an initial look at the 2024/25 marketing year projections that include lower production, greater domestic use, increased exports, and higher ending stocks as compared to the current 2023/24 market years. The following is a summary and some additional context for five projections from the latest outlook.   Yield Corn yield is projected at 181 bushels per acre. Yield projections depend on the modeling approach and time series used. While a 3.7 bushel per acre increase over the 2023 record 177.3 bushels per acre may seem like a stretch, a regression on annual yields from 2023 to several different historical points including 1934, 1980, and 1996 all predict 2024 yields within about one bushel of the USDA projection.   Trendline yields are a reasonable expectation at this point. Adverse weather is generally thought to have a negative impact on yields but in 2023 a record yield was achieved in a year with widespread...

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Feb 9, 2024

Climate, Conflict, & Currency Impact Cost Competitiveness for U.S. Corn Exports

Key Issues: Trade

Author: Krista Swanson

A combination of climate, conflict, and currency values are factors in cost competitiveness that impacts transits and overall U.S. corn exports.   Climate Climate conditions brought widespread drought to the United States Corn Belt in 2023. Dry conditions in the Mississippi River basin led to record low water levels. As a result, barge weight and traffic restrictions were imposed, and the 7.7 million tons of corn moved by barge on the Mississippi River in 2023 was 30% lower than 2022 and 54% lower than 2021. Ultimately, the cost of added time and weight restrictions were factors contributing to a higher corn price at port but also meant pace of getting grain to the port was slowed.   Climate-induced waterway challenges for U.S. corn don’t end at the Gulf. Extreme drought has forced substantial scaleback of shipping through the Panama Canal, a key global maritime channel. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has reduced traffic to 24 ships a day, about two-thirds of the normal...

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Dec 1, 2023

Drought & River Transport Impact on Corn Competitiveness

Key Issues: TradeTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Krista Swanson

For the second year in a row, drought conditions are impacting transportation on the Mississippi River at the peak shipment point of the year. Shallower river levels mean barge weight restrictions, slower barge traffic, and higher costs to ship commodities on the river. Ultimately, this translates to a relatively lower price at the farmgate and higher cost for the world buyer.   Drought Slows Grain Barge Traffic in 2022 and 2023 The Mississippi River is an important channel for commodity transportation. The USDA reports the final mode of transport was barge for 13% of U.S. grains in 2020, and 46% of exported U.S. grains[i]. There are normally two peaks in grain barge movements, one in late summer leading up to the end of the marketing year for corn and soybeans, and the other emerging in the fall harvest season and into the post-harvest months.   The impact of low water levels on grain barge movements was notable in 2023, marking the second consecutive year of drought...

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Apr 15, 2021

New SHP Business Case Showcases the Impact of Cover Crops on Erosion Control

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Amanda Sollman

In a new business case from Soil Health Partnership, Missouri farmers Tim and Trent Gottman share how building soil health through reduced tillage and cover crops has been critical to reducing erosion on their Missouri farm. By keeping the soil in place, they hold onto valuable nutrients and help protect nearby waterways.   It was in the mid-2000s when Tim says he first started noticing a significant change in weather patterns. Rainfall events seemed more frequent and more extreme in the spring, pushing planting dates back later and later. Over years of watching his soils wash away, he and his brother Trent worked toward strategically approaching erosion control in a way that was financially feasible for their farm.   “I don’t want to be the guy that stands in the shop every time we get a big rain and go, ‘Well…’ and just shrug my shoulders,” Tim said. “It seemed to me we needed to start adopting practices where, when that happens, you haven’t lost all your fertility, you...

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