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Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

USDA Tempers Expectations For Record Harvests After Storm, Drought

The USDA initially expected this year's corn and soy crops to deliver a record harvest.
The USDA initially expected this year's corn and soy crops to deliver a record harvest.

Farmers were expected to produce a record corn and soybean harvest this year, but after weeks of poor weather across the region, the USDA has officially walked back those predictions.

 Early predictions of storm damages after a devastating derecho in early August includenearly 38 million acres of farmlandimpacted across the Midwest.Several states are experiencing some kind of drought, with at least a quarter of acres in Iowa and Nebraska under severe or extreme conditions. 

The SeptemberWorld Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE)now expects a 387 million drop in corn bushel production this yearto14.9 billion totaland 112 fewer bushels of soybeans.

Chad Hart, an agricultural economist and the University of Iowa argues that is a reasonably small drop — in the case of soybeans, less than five percent. But it could provide a much-needed marketing boost for some grain farmers.

“Anytime you're talking about a hundred million bushels, that is a big movement as far as how things adjust here in the marketplace,” he explained. “But the crop is still going to be 4.3 billion bushels strong.”

Average corn prices are up forty cents to $3.50 per bushel, with soybeans selling nearly a dollar higher than last month at $9.25 per bushel. Wheat supply and demand saw little impact. A tighter market with less supply, he says, could be a win-win. Despite lower yield estimates, the U.S. will still be able to meet Phase 1 trade deal expectations with China, Hart says.

“What we were showing was that supplies greatly exceeded the demand. Now it looks like the effects of the drought and the derecho have knocked the top off of that,” he said. “We'll have enough supply to meet that Chinese demand, but we are seeing better prices because of that.”

Farmers are still taking stock of crop damages from this year’s slate of poor weather. The USDA says it will re-run surveys in several impacted areas, which could end up dropping yield estimates again as producers across the country turn toward harvest. 

“That's a unique adjustment that USDA doesn't normally make at this time of year, but it's something that we'll continue to see,” Hart said.

“So while this captured the majority of the drought and derecho impacts, it doesn't necessarily capture all of those impacts.”

 

Follow Christina on Twitter: @c_c_stella

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