USDA Will Take Another Look At Crop Projections

Numbers may be revised after the flooding in the Mississippi River Basin.

Published on: May 18, 2011

Just days after USDA issued its crop reports calling for a record corn harvest, the Army Corps opened a Mississippi River spillway, flooding thousands of acres of prime Louisiana farmland. A similar move upriver flooded more than 130,000 acres in the Missouri Bootheel, with estimates of total basin flood-losses in the millions of acres.

USDA World Ag Outlook Board Chair Gerald Bange says the agency will look at projections again and any changes to just-issued crop reports will now be up to USDA's National Ag Statistics Service.

"If they elect to make some changes to the numbers or there turns out to be some kind of a special assessment, which I'm certainly not saying is going to happen, but if there is something like that done we certainly do have the capacity and do have the responsibility to reflect that in the next World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates report," Bange said.

But Bange says potential losses still pale in comparison to the 85 million plus acres of corn and nearly 76 million acres of soybeans expected to be harvested when looking at the upper Mississippi flooding.

"There was a large area, I know the some of the acres up there were in the realm of 130,000 or so, and whether or not those acres will be lost to production remains to be seen," Bange said. "But having said that, and I don't mean in any way to downplay the impact on the local farmers in the area, but in terms of national totals they would still be relatively small for commodities such as corn and soybeans."

Cotton and rice acres are much fewer, so flooding impacts there could be greater. However some areas, where floods recede, may still be plantable.

"In some areas, perhaps in places that are, if there is such a term as marginally flooded, and perhaps if it would happen that waters would recede in sufficient time, certainly some of those areas could in fact, be planted," Bange said.

But Bange says there are so many unknowns right now about the impact of the flooding that USDA just won't have enough data to make a sound projection until we get further down the road.