The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 10 sharply reduced its yield and production forecasts for corn and soybeans, as expected. But it raised its yield and production forecasts for wheat. Wheat producers and wheat users may consider themselves remarkably fortunate. The historically early start to the 2012 wheat harvest allowed the crop to escape the worst predations of the most widespread and severe drought in decades. The dry and hot days of June began to exact a toll on corn and soybean yield prospects but allowed winter wheat producers to make outstanding progress in combining their crop. As the searing heat and lack of moisture ravaged the corn and soybean crops in the Midwest in July, the drought was only beginning to encroach on the northern Plains, where the spring wheat harvest, like the winter wheat harvest, was off to what was considered to be a record early start.
The U.S.D.A. forecast U.S. wheat production this year at 2,268 million bus, up 44 million bus from the July forecast and up 13% from 1,999 million bus in 2011. It raised its estimate of winter wheat yield to a record 48 bus per acre, up 0.3 bus per acre from the July estimate. It raised its average yield forecast for spring wheat other than durum to 42.8 bus per acre, up 2.4 bus per acre from July. The durum yield was forecast at 40.5 bus per acre, up 1.9 bus per acre from the July outlook.
The U.S.D.A. forecast 2012 corn production at 10,779 million bus, down 17% from the July forecast and down 13% from 12,358 million bus in 2011. The average corn yield was forecast at 123.4 bus per acre compared with 146 bus per acre as the July forecast and 147.2 bus per acre in 2011. It would be the lowest corn yield since 1995. The U.S.D.A. forecast 2012 soybean production at 2,692 million bus, down 12% from the July outlook and down 12% from 3,056 million bus in 2011. The average soybean yield was forecast at 36.1 bus per acre, down from 40.5 bus per acre as the July forecast and down 5.4 bus per acre from the 2011 average yield of 41.5 bus per acre. It would be the lowest soybean yield since 33.9 bus per acre in 2003.