Will corn yield be trimmed?

The January WASDE report will at least be delayed, if not skipped, due to the government shutdown. (In 2013, USDA did not publish an October report due to a shutdown that lasted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 17.) The January report is one the corn trade would rather not miss, as USDA nearly always adjusts the current season’s yield and harvested acreage. Speculation is leaning toward a modest reduction in 2018/19 corn yield and harvested acreage.

Since yields jumped in 2014/15, USDA has usually lowered yield in the January report, although last January brought a 1.2 bushel-per-acre increase. Harvested acreage has held steady or seen slight reductions. With this season’s corn harvest already estimated at a low 81.8 million acres, we don’t expect much reduction to acreage, even with the slowdown in harvest that occurred in October. Yield might be somewhat impacted by harvest conditions, as crop condition declined a little after late September—and yet, 68 percent of the crop was still rated good to excellent at the end of October. Considering these factors, we expect corn yield to decline by about half a bushel per acre from the December number, to around 178.4 bpa. If harvested acreage holds steady around 81.8 million acres, production would decline less than half a percent from the December forecast, to 14.6 billion bushels.

Corn crop condition vs. harvest progress

Note: Index scores above 350 indicate overall good to excellent condition for the U.S. crop
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