USDA crop report 'good news' for farmers, consumers
INDIANAPOLIS - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting a record corn crop in Indiana for the second consecutive year, pushing production beyond 1 billion bushels for the first time. It also forecasts a record crop nationally.
The production will enable U.S. farmers to meet worldwide demands for grain in food and for ethanol blends in gasoline to fuel cars.
"If you like to eat and drive your car, this is good news," Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt said Thursday (Aug. 12) during a panel discussion at the Indiana State Fair after the release of the USDA's "Crop Production Report" for August. The report is the first indicator of expected production for 2010.
The USDA forecast Indiana farmers to produce 1.03 billion bushels of corn - up from 933 million last year - on average yields of 176 bushels per acre, up 5 bushels.
The USDA forecast a record 13.4 billion bushels of corn nationally, up 2 percent from last year. Yields are expected to hit 165 bushels per acre, up slightly from last year's record of 164.7.
"We're going to have a lot of corn out there," said Greg Preston, director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Indiana.
Soybean production nationally is expected to hit a record 3.4 billion bushels - an increase of 2 percent from 2009 - on yields of 44 bushels per acre, which is unchanged from last year's record.
"Records are just popping up all over the place," Preston said.
While the report forecasts Indiana's soybean crop to drop to 259 million bushels from 266 million last year, soybean farmers did not benefit from early spring planting as much as did farmers who planted corn. The expected yield is unchanged from last year at 49 bushels per acre.
But soybean crops could improve, depending on how it develops into early September, Hurt said.
Concerns over heavy spring rains, sweltering heat and humidity have not hurt Indiana's crop production, primarily because of corn farmers' jump in planting in early April. At the beginning of May, corn planting set a record pace at 71 percent, surpassing the previous record in 2004. By mid-May, corn planting was 12 days ahead of the five-year average.
Planting of soybeans also moved at a record pace in late April, but weather for most of May slowed progress.
The early spring planting is turning out to be crucial to global food supply, Hurt said.
"If we didn't have that three weeks of early April planting, the world would be in a world of trouble for food and fuel," he said.
Sixty-three percent of Indiana's corn crop was rated good to excellent as of Aug. 1. A week later, 65 percent of it fell into that rating. Sixty-four percent of soybeans had that rating Aug. 1 and 65 percent a week later.
The report did not indicate a "big price driver" either higher or lower, Hurt said.
But Indiana farmers now will find planting more wheat attractive because of drought conditions in Russia, among the largest exporters of the crop, and in parts of Europe, Hurt said. That is an opportunity for farmers to take advantage of both world demand and high prices.
"We're going to see interest in wheat like we've never seen before," he said.
The report shows that Indiana farmers are responsive to world food supply demand, said Joe Kelsay, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director.
"We have the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply," he said.
Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture, moderated the panel discussion.
Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, email@example.com