Record bushels of corn looking ‘better than expected’

by Laura Lloyd
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WEST DES MOINES, IOWA — The 2013 corn crop’s recent harvest progress through the deep South, the eastern Corn Belt and the western Corn Belt revealed record bushels per acre in 9 out of 10 cases, said Dave Smoldt, vice-president of IntlFCStone, Inc., in West Des Moines. That has meant yields in many areas of the 18 major corn-growing states were above 200 bus an acre, Mr. Smoldt told Milling & Baking News. He said some fields in central Iowa were yielding as much as 234 bus of corn an acre.

Mr. Smoldt suggested that the crop as a whole would likely average about 160 bus per acre and generally be disease-free and of good quality.

“The crop has been better than we thought,” he said.

He estimated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress report issued Oct. 28 will show the corn harvest at about 60% completed, with 30% to 50% of corn harvested in the western Corn Belt as of the latest week. The U.S.D.A. has estimated that the 2013 corn crop would be about 13.8 billion bus.

On Nov. 8, the U.S.D.A. will release the November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Crop Production reports, the first since September (the October reports were cancelled during the partial shutdown of the U.S. government). The November data will fine tune assessments of the size of this year’s corn crop.

Despite growing evidence that the 2013 crop was exceptionally large, corn prices were not expected to plunge, although they could fall to a level not seen since the third quarter of 2010, Mr. Smoldt said.

“The pipeline is very empty after last year’s short crop,” he said. He predicted prices would likely not sink below about $4.10@4.15 a bu this year because export and ethanol demand would remain healthy.

He said corn export forecasts for 2013 were about 1,225 million bus, well above the 735 million bus of 2012, despite the fact that some customers have developed other markets such as the Black Sea region and South America to fill their import needs.

Storage for the large new crop was expected to be improved from past years, but probably not sufficient to completely take care of all the supplies. Elevators will be full.

“There will be stuff on the ground,” he added, that producers were likely to sell quickly. Most of the new crop, though, was expected to be stored because, at current prices, around $4.32 a bu and headed lower for December corn, farmers are in no hurry to sell, Mr. Smoldt said.
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