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

This year's acreage harvested for soybeans nationwide is estimated at 75.7 million acres, up 1% from September and up 3% from last year.

Iowa's 2012 corn production is estimated at 19% below 2011 production

Corn production in Iowa this year, based on October 1 conditions, is forecast by USDA at 1.92 billion bushels, 19% less than the amount Iowa produced in 2011. Iowa's corn crop is estimated to yield 140 bushel per acre for a statewide average this year. Iowa's acreage of corn planted and acreage harvested for grain in 2012 are estimated at 14.2 million acres and 13.7 million acres, respectively.

Soybean production in Iowa is forecast at 399 million bushels, down from last year's production of 475 million bushels. Based on October 1 conditions, Iowa's yield is forecast to average 43.0 bushels per acre in 2012, up 4 bushels from the September estimate. Iowa farmers planted 9.35 million acres of soybeans and plan to harvest 9.29 million acres this year.

Iowa's hay crop in 2012 also was reduced significantly by drought

USDA's October crop report estimates hay yield in Iowa in 2012, for alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures, is expected to be 2.9 tons per acre with a total production of 2.32 million tons. The yield of "other hay" is projected to be 1.6 tons per acre, down 26% from 2011.

What do these crop production estimates mean in terms of dollars? As tough as the drought has been this year in Iowa, the state isn't likely to suffer a massive economic falloff from reduced crop yields, thanks to higher corn and soybean prices. Iowa's 2.3 billion bushels of corn harvested in 2011 sold for an average price of $6.20 per bushel, producing $14.26 billion in gross revenue. The 475.5 million bushels of soybeans sold for an average of $12 per bushel, generating $5.7 billion in cash. Iowa's two biggest cash grain crops brought in $20 billion for the first time in the state's history.

This year the state's corn and soybean production will be smaller due to drought, with crops of 1.9 billion bushels of corn and 399.4 million bushels for beans. But at $7.50 average price for corn and $15.50 for soybeans, the cash generated will be in the same $19-$20 billion range as a year ago.