How Drought Cut Corn, Soybean Yields In 2012

Despite the drought, Iowa will retain its title as the nation's leading corn and soybean producer as 2012 harvest draws to a close.

Published on: Oct 15, 2012

The U.S. corn harvest is forecast at 10.7 billion bushels for 2012, down from 12.5 billion bushels last year. Soybean production will drop from 3.1 billion bushels in 2011 to 2.8 billion bushels this year. That's according to USDA's latest monthly crop forecast, issued October 11. "This report is the most complete assessment of yields since Midwest farmers began their harvest earlier than normal this fall due to the widespread drought this year," says Greg Thessen, director of the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines.

Thus, the U.S. corn crop is expected to be down 13% from 2011, and the soybean crop is estimated at 8% below last year's production. The USDA projects corn prices to average between $7.10 and $8.50 per bushel through early 2013, a price level that is widely expected to discourage livestock producers from increasing their herd sizes and thus putting upward pressure on meat prices.

BIGGER BEAN YIELD: USDAs October estimate is that Iowa soybeans will average 43 bushels per acre this year, up from an estimate of 39 bushels per acre last month. In 2011, Iowas soybean yield averaged 50.5 bushels per acre. Corn yield for Iowa in 2012 is estimated to be 140 bushels per acre according to USDAs October report. Thats unchanged from the September estimate and down from 172 bushels per acre Iowa produced in 2011.
BIGGER BEAN YIELD: USDA's October estimate is that Iowa soybeans will average 43 bushels per acre this year, up from an estimate of 39 bushels per acre last month. In 2011, Iowa's soybean yield averaged 50.5 bushels per acre. Corn yield for Iowa in 2012 is estimated to be 140 bushels per acre according to USDA's October report. That's unchanged from the September estimate and down from 172 bushels per acre Iowa produced in 2011.

The historic drought and summer heat wave took its toll on both corn and soybean yields this year, as most of the Midwest saw production fall, notes Thessen. The U.S. corn yield is forecast to average 123 bushels per acre, down 17% from last year. Soybeans, at 38 bushels per acre, are down 9% from 2011.

USDA estimate shows Iowa still ranks No. 1 in both corn & soybean production

Iowa will retain its title as the nation's leading corn and soybean producer. USDA's October forecast pegs Iowa corn and soybean crops at 1.9 billion bushels and 399 million bushels respectively. Behind Iowa, a shake-up in the standings has occurred as Minnesota's 1.4 billion bushels and Nebraska's 1.3 billion bushels of corn displace long-time runner-up Illinois. Nebraska has a lot of irrigated corn acreage.

Illinois was hit perhaps hardest of any state by the drought this year and will see its corn production plunge to fourth place at 1.22 billion bushels.