The USDA is forecasting a new record soybean yield (45.2 bushels) in 2014, exceeding the 2009 record of 44 bushels by a large margin. Like corn, high soybean yield expectations this year are based on generally favorable growing conditions to date and on the high percentage of the crop rated in good or excellent condition.
The USDA's Crop Progress report of July 21 estimated that 73% of the crop in the 18 major producing states was in either good or excellent condition as of July 20. That is the largest percentage in those two categories for that week since 1994, when 83% of the crop was rated in good or excellent condition, the third largest since the report was initiated in 1986, and 14 points above the average for 1986 through 2013. Expectations of a U.S. average soybean yield above trend value in 2014 seem justified by current crop condition ratings.
A yield above trend by as much as the average (3.0 bushels) of the previous seven highest yielding years relative to trend since 1960 would be 46.6 bushels per acre. However, June weather conditions in those high yielding years tended to be moderately dry and cool, while June 2014 in was wet and warm. This was particularly true for Iowa, which received over twice its long-term average precipitation in June. Weather conditions so far in July have been mixed.
Temperatures in major growing areas were below average early in the month, moved to above average this week, but are forecast to retreat again next week. Average July temperatures are expected to be about 2.5 degrees below average. Rainfall in the first three weeks of July was slightly above to slightly below average for most areas, but was well below average in some key northern states. History suggests that cool, moist conditions are needed in August for the U.S. average yield to be equivalent to that of the other high yielding years.
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