The release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) June acreage report last week has spurred speculation on whether this yearâ€™s crop will surpass 2003â€™s record production of 10.114 billion bushels.
The ProExporter Network (PRX), a Kansas City-based consulting firm, is among those who believe this fallâ€™s corn crop will indeed set new production marks. If this summerâ€™s favorable growing conditions persist, PRX estimates the 2004 crop will be at least 10.516 billion bushels. The latest PRX numbers also indicate a slight increase in yield from 142.2 bushels per acre last year to 143.3 in 2004, which would also be a new record.
"Perfect weather through July and August could boost the yield even further," says PRXâ€™s Bill Hudson. Silking is well ahead of normal and the long-term weather forecast is unlikely to be as extremely hot and dry as last year, Hudson says.
Economists are optimistic about this yearâ€™s crop after USDA released its June 30 acreage report, which estimates 81 million acres were seeded to corn this year. USDAâ€™s March planting intentions report forecasted 79 million corn acres, but near-perfect conditions enabled a significant increase in corn plantings, Hudson says.
"Rarely, if ever, has there been such a large change from the March intentions to the June acreage report for the planted area of corn," Hudson says, adding that PRXâ€™s corn production estimate "could obviously get much bigger with continued perfect, cool weather."
PRX estimates U.S. corn exports will increase slightly to 1.927 billion bushels, or nearly 19% of the total crop. Industrial use, including corn for ethanol, is forecasted to increase to about 2.65 billion bushels, or 25% of the crop. Livestock feed and residual use will remain as the top use of U.S. corn, consuming an estimated 54% of the 2004 crop.
Hudson says export demand may increase, depending on certain international economic variables. "Most people are assuming 2004-2005 demand is all set to be just about as perfect as the weather so far, but we have adopted rather low numbers for U.S. corn exports until more proof comes from China business," he says.