Whether you think USDA is through dropping corn yields depends upon who you talk to, and their point of view. Their point of view this year may be clouded by where they live. If you're in a dry area, it's hard to believe that the final estimate will stay where it's at. If you live in western Iowa, you might think it might even go back up.
"They've got some of the best crops in western Iowa that they've ever had," a friend said earlier this week. He's originally from that area. Over the years, western Iowa has had its' share of weather issues, but apparently not this time.
However, if you live in Brownsburg, Ind., or Decatur, Ill., or Columbus, Ind., you wonder where they're even getting the numbers they're still talking about. You're seeing small ears, and hearing about small yields. Where will the high-yielding corn come from to offset the acres you're hearing about that yielded form zero (disked under) to 35 bushels per acre? If they're out there, they are well hidden.
In Indiana alone, USDA took off 5 bushels per acre from the August estimate to the September estimate. Even for conservative USDA, that's a pretty large drop. Last year, the yield fell about 10 bushels per acre from August to final estimate. That pushed the record for inaccuracy in USDA history, from the beginning estimate to final published yield. It makes one think there might be more yield yet to take off of that number this year.
The other factor few have talked about is the amount of wind damage in areas which weren't as dry, like the Upper Great Plains and parts of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. While it received press at the time, some seem to have forgotten. From past experience, elbowed corn can be harvested, and no doubt in easier fashion than 20 years ago. But some damage has already been done. Expect some not-as-high as-expected yields from places looking for big crops based on this factor alone.
And in Minnesota, where corn reportedly looked good for most of the year, they still got heat wave, even as far north as they are. Heat and too much of it can impact pollination,
even without a severe drought.Add it all together and it's still a relevant question: is there as much corn out there as USDA reported even in September, after taking the luster of what was already a dull shine? Or will this be the second year in a row where USDA eats crow. The yield monitors will soon tell us, perhaps before USDA figures it out.