Mired by a rainy and chilly spring, U.S. farmers may soon give up on planting corn in rain-soaked parts of the Farm Belt because it is getting too late for money-making yields, said economist Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois. "I truly believe we are in 'black swan' territory as far as late corn planting is concerned," he said over the weekend, using a term popularized during the financial crisis a decade ago.
Farmers growing the three major U.S. crops — corn, soybeans and wheat — can expect a sizable decline in the average sales price for this year's harvest instead of the mild upturn that was forecast in late February, said the USDA. In its first projection of the fall harvest, the USDA said season-average prices for the three crops would be 8 to 10 percent lower than anticipated at its Outlook Forum.
A larger-than-usual portion of the U.S. corn crop will be planted so late that yields could be depressed, said two University of Illinois economists on Thursday. “A reasonable estimate is that late corn planting in 2019 will be at least 5 to 10 percent above average.”
For years, larger and larger sales of corn ethanol were almost a given. For one thing, the Renewable Fuel Standard guaranteed biofuels a share of the gasoline market, and car-happy Americans used more gasoline every year. The joyride, however, may be ending, says a University of Illinois economist.
Spring flooding in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt will have a marginal impact on corn and soybean plantings, according to a USDA survey of growers and initial tallies of flooded land. With normal weather and yields, there would be limited impact on production of the two most widely grown U.S. crops, thanks to the huge amount of cropland nationwide.
Aside from planning a 4-percent expansion of corn area, U.S. farmers aren't enthusiastic about spring planting. With little improvement expected in commodity prices, growers say they will plant fewer acres of soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, sorghum and oats than in 2018, and they'll stand pat on barley.
U.S. farmers will harvest a sharply smaller soybean crop this year, driven away from the oilseed by weak market prices and a staggeringly large soy surplus resulting from a string of bumper crops. Even so, the International Grains Council projects the third year in a row of record-large soybean production globally.
The neck-and-neck race between soybeans and corn for the title of No. 1 U.S. crop is over after one lap, with corn the victor and soybeans out of the running due to trade war with China. The USDA says corn will be the acreage king for years to come while soybeans recover slowly from the loss of sales to China, which used to buy one of every three bushels of U.S. soybeans.
Already-bulging U.S. corn and soybean stockpiles are much larger than expected, said a USDA report, compounding the effects of a trade war and bumper crops on the farm economy. Farm income this year is forecast to be the lowest since 2006.