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16 August 2015 - Is The Crop Really That Good?

How many times have I heard the question - “Are this year’s crops really that good?” Since USDA released it’s August Crop Production Report, I have heard the question quite a few times from producers around the country who basically say - “C’mon, where do they get those numbers? Haven’t they seen my flooded areas? Haven’t they seen the results of ponding? Didn’t they count my unplanted acres”

But I shouldn’t be surprised, these are questions that are asked after nearly every crop report, especially the first one of the summer. Just to refresh your memory, here are the numbers in what I call the first real crop report of the season because it takes into account the actual planted acreage and growing conditions as of the 1st of August.

  • Corn - 13,686,000,000 bushels; Yield per acre - 168.8 bushels.
  • Soybeans - 3,916,000,000 bushels per acre; Yield per acre 46.9 bushels with record soybean yields in eight states including Minnesota and Nebraska. Those numbers were above previous USDA projections as well as the estimates made by traders ahead of the report.

I have been covering crop reports ever since 1960; I have been in the Crop Report Lock-up several times, back in the days when the state numbers were delivered by the Postal Service in locked and sealed mail bags on the morning of the report, and once you were in the Lock-up, the only reason you could leave was a medical emergency, and you would be accompanied by two armed guards to make sure you didn’t give numbers to anybody outside ahead of the release time. Today, of course, it is dome entirely by internet and I’m just waiting for the first hacking incident to occur and give somebody the numbers early.

After every crop report going back to the 60's, I will hear from a few producers and traders who say “Those numbers can’t be real.” That is when I always have to say, “Don’t judge the entire crop by what you see on your farm because crop conditions vary a great deal across this vast country.

Finally, I do have a suggestion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Let’s do away with the August Crop Report. There are still over 50 days of growing season left over most of the crop area before we really know what we will be harvesting. After watching soybeans drop 59 cents a bushel and corn 17 cents, minutes after the numbers were released, I think the August Crop Report creates far too much price speculation that costs producers and processors alike.

So, my message to U.S.D.A. - Save some of our taxpayer dollars, save some of your staff’s precious time and let’s make the September Crop Report the first one of the season.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.