The USDA’s August Crop Production report confirmed prospects for small U.S. corn and soybean crops and the need for consumption of both crops to decline sharply in the year ahead.

Price behavior since the release of the USDA reports last Friday suggests that both the corn and soybean markets believe production forecasts will increase and/or prices are already high enough to motivate the necessary rationing.

University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good said such conclusions may be premature.   

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“Prices will now begin to reflect expectations for any changes in the production forecasts and confirmation that the necessary rationing is occurring,” Good said.

“Indications of the pace of consumption will be provided by weekly reports of exports, ethanol production, and broiler placements and monthly reports of the domestic soybean crush, cattle feedlot inventories, and dairy cow numbers.”

Good noted that new production forecasts will be released in September, October, and November and the final estimate will be released in January.

“Expectations for changes in yield forecasts this year are partially influenced by changes in those forecasts in previous dry growing seasons and by weather conditions the rest of this month, particularly for soybeans,” Good said.

“The history of changes in yield forecasts in dry years provides a mixed picture, particularly for corn.”

The U.S. average corn yield estimate in January following harvest was below the August forecast by 2.2 bushels in 1980, 18.3 bushels in 1983, 12.1 bushels in 1995, 12.2 bushels in 2010, and 5.8 bushels in 2011.

The January yield estimate was above the August forecast by 0.8 bushel in 1991, 6.1 bushels in 1988, and 4.8 bushels in 2002.

For soybeans, the January estimate was below the August forecast by 0.6 bushel in 1980, 4 bushels in 1983, 2.3 bushels in 1984, 1.5 bushels in 1995, 6 bushels in 2003, and 0.5 bushel in 2010.

Good said the large decline in 2003 reflected, at least in part, widespread damage from soybean aphids. The January estimate was above the August forecast by 0.8 bushel in 1988.

The pattern of yield forecast changes was different in each year for both corn and soybeans.

Good said current expectations for corn appear to be in a range of 5 bushels above to 5 bushels below the August forecast of 123.4 bushels, wheras expectations for soybeans are 1 or 2 bushels above to 1 or 2 bushels below the August forecast of 36.1 bushels.