August 26, 2011 / 11:19 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-Pro Farmer sees U.S. corn yield below USDA's

* Pro Farmer: US corn yield 147.9 bpa; crop 12.484 bln bu
    * Corn yield, crop estimate down from USDA forecasts
    * Pro Farmer: US soy yield 41.8 bpa, crop at 3.083 bln bu
    * Pro Farmer's soy f'cast tops USDA; plants disease-free
 (Recasts, adds analyst comments, details)
    By Karl Plume and Mark Weinraub
    CHICAGO, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. corn crop is shrinking
after being damaged by hot weather, hail, and wind, crop scouts
concluded this week, a development that analysts say threatens
to push up prices for food, feed, and fuel.
    Leaders of an annual week-long Midwest tour corn and
soybean fields in the U.S. grain belt found the corn yield to
be well below the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latestforecast. However, yield prospects for soybeans were brighter.
    Farm newsletter Pro Farmer, which organized the tour that
was attended by farmers, agronomists and a large number of
participants from the hedge fund industry, pegged this year's
corn yield at 147.9 bushels per acre. That compares with USDA's
August forecast of 153 bushels.
     Pro Farmer estimated U.S. 2011 corn production at 12.484
billion bushels, below USDA's forecast of 12.914 billion, but
still potentially the third-largest in U.S. history.
    Yet USDA predicts demand for corn by the livestock, ethanol
and export sectors would leave the smallest U.S. stockpile in
16 years by next summer. If Pro Farmer's crop estimate is
correct, U.S. corn stocks could be even smaller.
    "The end-game of this is that livestock feeders and ethanol
makers are going to slow down their use of corn," said Don
Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.
    High corn prices already have cattle and poultry producers
losing money, said Jim Robb, agricultural economist at
Livestock Marketing Information Center. The chicken industry is
already on pace for a 7 percent drop in production this year as
the industry has reduced the number of eggs for broiler
    "If these (corn) numbers do materialize, we will see
further erosion in egg sets, and it will go deeper into 2012
than we anticipated just a few weeks ago," Robb said.
    Pro Farmer found brighter prospects for soybeans. The
newsletter pegged the U.S. soybean crop at 3.083 billion
bushels -- potentially the 4th-largest in U.S. history -- based
on a yield of 41.8 bushels per acre.
    The figures were above USDA's estimates for a 3.056 billion
bushel crop, with an average yield of 41.4 bushels per acre.
USDA is scheduled to issue updated crop estimates on Sept. 12.
    "The slight uptick in the bean yield estimate from USDA's
Aug. 1 yield is the result of one of the most disease-free bean
crops we've ever seen on Tour," Pro Farmer said in a
    For Iowa, the top U.S. soy-producing state, Pro Farmer
estimated the yield at 53 bushels per acre, up from USDA's
August estimate of 52.
    "Give this Iowa crop one more rain and we'll see a record
yield for the state in 2011," Pro Farmer said.
    Map of route:       
    Pro Farmer estimates vs USDA:
    USDA corn crop data:
    USDA soybean crop data:
    Pro Farmer said its corn yield and production estimates
could vary by plus or minus 1 percent and its soy figures could
vary by plus or minus 2 percent.
    Pro Farmer's editors said they used USDA's Aug. 1 estimates
of harvested acres in their crop calculations but expected the
government to eventually reduce its harvested acres figure.
    Pro Farmer conducted its annual corn and soybean tour this
week through major production areas in seven Midwest states,
and based its forecasts on surveys of hundreds of fields.
    Concerns about tight stocks of corn in the United States,
the world's biggest supplier, lasting into 2012 have helped
lift Chicago Board of Trade corn futures to historic highs.
    Front-month corn futures Cc1 hit an all-time peak in June
just below $8 a bushel. The benchmark December contract CZ1
settled Friday at $7.67.
    CBOT soybean futures are also trading at elevated levels,
with most-active November SX1 settling Friday at $14.23-1/2.
 (Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen, writing by Julie
Ingwersen; editing by Bob Burgdorfer)
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