Farmers are harvesting the largest U.S. corn crop ever grown, 15.2 billion bushels, and only the third crop on record to top 15 billion bushels, said the Agriculture Department.
American farmers will plant 7.6 million more acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, the "big three" crops of modern U.S. agriculture, this year than last, according to USDA estimates. With normal weather and trend-line yields, the result could be the largest soybean crop ever and the biggest corn crop since record production in 2016.
U.S. cotton growers will harvest a drought-shortened crop of 12.57 million bales, their smallest since 2009, according to the USDA's monthly Crop Production report. Texas, the No. 1 producer, would account for nearly all of the nearly 5-million-bale decline in production from last year.
Thanks to a huge decline in the Florida crop this season, California is running neck and neck with the Sunshine State as the top orange-producing state with the harvest season in its final weeks, said the USDA. California has expanded production in recent years while output in Florida, hit by the tree-killing citrus greening disease, has fallen steeply over the past two decades.
U.S. farmers will respond to high commodity prices by harvesting their largest soybean crop ever and a corn crop that could tie the record set in 2016, projected USDA on Friday. Delivered to a hungry world recovering from the pandemic, the 2021 corn and soybean crops would fetch some of the highest farm-gate prices in years.
A resurgent U.S. economy will grow at its fastest pace in two decades after this year's coronavirus slowdown, helping to boost commodity prices almost across the board, said the USDA in its first projections for 2021. Growers will harvest a record-large crop of soybeans and the crop will sell for an average $10 a bushel for the first time in seven years, thanks to strong demand.
Besides weighing potential market prices against the cost of fuel, fertilizer and seeds, farmers have a new factor for their planting decisions: Will it assure them of a trade war payment? President Trump's suggestion that if his trade deals with China and other nations are slow to bear, "aid will be paid by the federal government," could encourage farmers to plant more land this spring than would otherwise be justified.
The rainiest spring in a quarter-century slowed the planting season and helped limit U.S. farmers to their smallest crop area in five decades, said the government in assessing 2019 production. Early snowfall and icy autumn weather prevented growers from harvesting more than 600 million bushels of corn, and the USDA said it would update estimates of corn and soybean supplies, if warranted, "once producers are able to finish harvesting remaining acres."
Despite the wettest spring in a quarter century, U.S. farmers sowed nearly 6 percent more corn and 5 percent fewer soybeans than expected during a cold and muddy planting season, said the USDA, based on a survey of 68,100 growers during the first two weeks of June. The annual Acreage report usually provides a definitive picture of crops, but excessive rain slowed field work so much that the USDA said it will re-survey the Midwest this month and would revise its acreage data, if need be, in its August crop report.
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 planted nearly 2 million more acres of corn and soybeans than they planned in late winter, but soybeans, for the first time in 35 years, will be the most widely grown crop in the country, said the USDA's annual Acreage report. The soybean harvest could be the second-largest ever and corn the third-largest, assuming normal weather and yields.
Wheat growers sowed 31.2 million acres of winter wheat for harvest this spring, the lowest figure since 1909 for the dominant type of U.S. wheat, according to a survey of farmers by Farm Futures. It would be a declne of 4.5 percent from last year and reflect poor profit potential of the wheat compared to other crops.
It sounded like the return of Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz, who urged farmers to plant fence row to fence row, when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked about the uncertainties created by President Trump's plan to renegotiate trade pacts, says DTN. Ross responded, "If I were a farmer, I would plant as much as I can logically plant in today's environment."
For the third month in a row, the USDA said the record-setting U.S. corn and soybean crops are bigger than expected. At 15.2 billion bushels, the corn crop is roughly a billion bushels larger than the 2014 record and the soybean crop, now pegged at 4.36 billion bushels, is 10-percent larger than the previous mark, also set in 2014.
The record-setting U.S. soybean crop is even bigger than expected, up nearly 2 percent from USDA's previous forecast to an estimated 4.269 billion bushels. With farm-gate prices at the second-lowest level in a decade, soybean exports will exceed 2 billion bushels for the first time, according to the monthly WASDE report.
U.S. farmers are growing peanuts faster than the nation, or the world, can consume them, say USDA economists, who estimate the peanut supply will be a record 9.5 billion pounds following this year's harvest. Thanks to rising demand, led by China and Vietnam, exports are forecast for a record 1.5 billion pounds — one-fourth of this year's crop — but the U.S. peanut surplus could continue to grow.
U.S. farmers are headed for a record-large corn crop at the same time that market prices may be the lowest in a decade — a combination that could trigger crop-insurance indemnities for farmers who bought high levels of revenue insurance, says DTN. "In fact, many corn growers could trigger 2016 crop insurance pay-outs with no yield loss."
U.S. corn plantings grew 10 percent in the past decade, driven by the commodity boom that began in 2006. Economist Gary Schnitkey says the expansion occurred mostly in the western Corn Belt, with North Dakota and South Dakota accounting for one-third of the increased U.S. acreage of 7.9 million acres.
High corn and soybean yields will bring bumper crops, traders said in anticipation of the USDA Crop Production and WASDE reports to be issued today. In surveys by Bloomberg and Reuters, analysts said the fall harvest will be bigger than thought a month ago, which will fatten U.S. inventories and hold down commodity prices for months to come.