Farm Progress

Average corn yields up, soybean yields slightly down and increased carryover across the board.

Kent Thiesse, Farm management analyst and vice president

January 19, 2018

6 Min Read

The USDA Crop Production Report released on Jan. 12 indicates a record U.S. corn yield for 2017 and a record soybean production level for the year. The USDA WASDE Report, which was also released on Jan. 12, showed a slight increase in the carryover stocks of both corn and soybeans, compared to the December WASDE estimates. The latest projected ending stocks for the 2017-18 marketing year are higher than the final 2016-17 corn and soybean ending stocks, and considerably higher than the final ending stocks two years ago for the 2015-16 marketing year. Following are some highlights from the latest USDA WASDE and Crop Production reports.

Corn WASDE summary

According to the Jan. 12 report, the total U.S, corn production for 2017 is estimated to be at just over 14.6 billion bushels. The 2017 level is a decrease of 4 percent below the 2016 record U.S, corn production of 15.1 billion bushels, and compares to the 2015 U.S. corn production of 13.6 billion bushels. The 90.4 million corn acres planted in 2017, compares to 94 million in 2016 and 88 million acres in 2015. The modern record for planted corn acres was 97.3 million acres in 2012, which was the highest in the U.S. since 1949. The total corn acres harvested for grain in 2017 was 82.7 million acres, compared to 86.7 million acres in 2016 and 80.8 million acres in 2015.

According to the Jan. 12 WASDE report, the corn ending stocks for 2017-18 are estimated at just over 2.47 billion bushels, which compares to slightly over 2.29 billion bushels for 2016-17, and just over 1.73 billion bushels in 2015-16. USDA is projecting that total U.S. corn use in 2017-2018 to be near 14.5 billion bushels for livestock feed, ethanol, food products, seed, exports, etc., which is down slightly from the total corn usage of over 14.6 billion bushels in in 2016-17, but is well ahead of the 13.6 corn bushels utilized in 2015-16. The level of corn used for feed and ethanol production is expected to increase in 2017-18, but corn exports are estimated to decline, compared to a year earlier.

USDA is projecting the 2017-18 market year average (MYA) corn price in a range of $2.95-3.55 per bushel, resulting in an average of $3.25 per bushel, which would be the lowest in several years. This compares to 12-month MYA corn prices of $3.36 per bushel for 2016-17, $3.61 per bushel for 2015-16, $3.70 per bushel for 2014-15, and $4.46 per bushel for 2013-14. The 12-month MYA price for the 2017-18 crop year will be calculated from Sept. 1, 2017 through Aug. 31, 2018. 

Soybean WASDE summary

According to the Jan. 12 USDA report, total U.S. soybean production for 2017 is estimated at just over 4.39 billion bushels, which is up 2 percent from just over 4.29 billion bushels in 2016, and compares to just under 3.93 billion bushels n 2015. The total harvested soybean acreage in 2017 was at the record level of 89.5 million acres, far surpassing the previous record of 82.7 million acres in 2016.   

The USDA Report is projecting soybean ending stocks for 2017-18 at 470 million bushels, which is up significantly from the carryover levels of 301 million bushels for 2016-17, or 197 million bushels in 2015-16. Total soybean usage for 2017-18 is estimated at just under 4.25 billion bushels, which is very similar to the 4.21 billion bushels utilized in 2016-17, with a projected increase in the soybean crush levels, but a slight decrease in export levels. USDA is estimating the 2017-18 MYA soybean price in a range of $8.80-9.80 per bushel, or an average price of $9.30 per bushel. This compares to 12-month MYA soybean prices of $9.47 per bushel for 2016-17 and $8.95 per bushel for 2015-16.

Crop yields

The national average corn yield for 2017 is estimated to be a record at 176.6 bushels per acre, surpassing the previous record U.S. corn yield of 174.6 bushels per acre last year in 2016. The 2016 U.S. corn yield also compares to other recent average corn yields of 168.4 bushels per acre in 2015, 171 bushels per acre in 2014, and 158.1 in 2013. The U.S. average soybean yield in 2017 was lowered by .40 bushel per acre from the November USDA report, and now is estimated at 49.1 bushels per acre, which is a decline from the record U.S. soybean yield of 52 bushels per acre in 2016. The 2017 U.S. soybean yield is still above other recent average U.S. soybean yields of 48 bushels per acre in 2015, 47.5 bushels per acre in 2014, and 44 bushels per acre in 2013. 

The average corn yield for Minnesota in 2017 is estimated at the record level of 194 bushels per acre, besting the 2016 state record yield of 193 bushels per acre, and comparing to 188 bushels per acre in 2015 and 156 bushels per acre in 2014. The estimated 2017 Iowa corn yield is 202 bushels per acre, which is just below Iowa’s 2016 corn yield of 203 bushels per acre that was an all-time state record for any major corn producing state in the U.S. The 2017 Iowa corn yield is still well above other previous State corn yields of 192 bushels per acre in 2015 and 178 bushels per acre in 2014.

The average 2017 corn yields in other major corn-production states were Illinois at 201 bushels per acre, up from 197 bushels per acre in 2016, Indiana at 180 bushels per acre, compared to 173 bushels per acre in 2016, Nebraska at 181 bushels per acre, up from 178 bushels per acre in 2016. South Dakota recorded a 2017 corn yield of 145 bushels per acre, down from 161 bushels per acre in 2016, and North Dakota had a corn yield of 139 bushels per acre, down considerably from 158 bushels per acre in 2016. Large portions of both North and South Dakota suffered from drought conditions during the 2017 growing season.

The estimated average soybean yield in Minnesota for 2017 was at 47 bushels per acre, which is well below the state record yield of 52 bushels per acre in 2016, and compares to soybean yields of 50 bushels per acre in 2015 and 41.5 bushels per acre in 2014. The average soybean yield for 2017 in Iowa is estimated at 56.5 bushels per acre, which is below the impressive record yield level of 60.5 bushels per acre in 2016, but is the same as the previous record yield of 56.5 bushels per acre in 2015.

The estimated average 2017 soybean yields in other major-production states were Illinois at 58 bushels per acre, compared to 59 bushels per acre in 2016; Indiana at 54 bushels per acre, down from 57.5 bushels per acre in 2016; and Nebraska at 57.5 bushels per acre, a decrease from 61 bushels per acre in 2016. South Dakota had a 2017 soybean yield of 43 bushels per acre, down from 49.5 bushels per acre in 2016, and North Dakota was at 34 bushels per acre, a substantial decrease from 41.5 bushels per acre in 2016. Both states experienced lower soybean yields this past year due to the extremely dry conditions that existed during the 2017 growing season.

About the Author(s)

Kent Thiesse

Farm management analyst and vice president, MinnStar Bank

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