Fundamentally Speaking

US Corn Yields

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst

USDA really threw the trade a curveball last week with corn.

Since 2014 they have come in above the average analyst estimate for both production and yields, but not this time.

2021 U.S. corn yield at 174.6 bushels per acre (bpa) vs the trade estimate of 176.9 and month ago 179.5; production was 14.750 billion bushels (bb) vs trade guess of 14.945 bb and month ago 15.165 bb.

This graphic shows USDA's August 2021 and final 2020 corn yield in bushels per acre for the U.S. and top 18 corn growing states on the left-hand axis while on the right-hand axis is the percent that this year's corn yield deviates from the 1999-2020 trend.

Also reported in the yellow circles is where the 2021 yield ranks from 1999-2021 with 1 being the highest or top yield and 23 is the lowest.

This year's national yield at 174.6 bpa is 0.8% below the 1999-2020 trend of 176.0 and now is the third year in a row of below trend yields, not that common an occurrence with the prior peak set in 2017.

Seems strange then that 5 of the top 18 states have record yields, 4 of the top 18 have their second-best yields ever and two have their third highest yield ever.

The problem is that you have some very large producing states having below to well below normal yields from trend, all of them out west with exception of Wisconsin where their yield estimate of 167 bpa looks rather low to us.

Nebraska, the third largest producing state, has a yield 2.5% below trend even though their 186 bpa figure is their second highest ever, the largest state Iowa has a yield currently pegged 1.4% below trend and Minnesota the fifth largest state has its yield 12.3% below trend.

Remember MN along with ND whose yield at 106 bpa is the third worst since 1999 and 24.4% below trend and SD with a yield 17.3% below trend will make up about 20% of U.S. planted area this fall, about the largest ever and certainly a drag as we have intimated in past blogs on the national yield.


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