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Who is Right About Yields?

Going into the final week of August, there’s the feel of fall across portions of the Corn Belt, with temperatures well below normal. USDA’s weekly crop progress report found the 18-state progress very close to average for both corn and beans.

Crop ratings are unchanged for the 18 major states, with corn rated 69 percent good/excellent and soybeans, 63 percent good/excellent. Only 10 percent of corn and 11 percent of beans are rated poor/very poor. States in the region served by Farm Credit Services of America are faring well, with poor/very poor ratings of just 4 percent in Iowa and 5 percent in Nebraska and South Dakota.

This gives little reason to expect much yield change in the September supply/demand estimate. On Aug. 12, USDA estimated this year’s national corn yield at 168.8 bu./acre, up 2 bu. from last year, and soybeans at 46.9 bu./acre, up from last year’s 46, but below the 47.8 bu. binned in 2014.

However, the much-watched Pro Farmer Crop Tour took place last week and the assessment there was a little less optimistic based on the prospect of less-than-optimal corn yields in the eastern Corn Belt. Acknowledging a bin-busting crop may be on the way in the western Corn Belt, Pro Farmer pegs the average yield at 164.3 bu./acre and the crop at 13.323 billion bu. If that size crop materializes, it would be almost 1 billion smaller than last year’s record. 

The tour’s assessment of soybean yield is closer to USDA’s, with an average yield of 46.5 bu./acre and a crop forecast of 3.887 billion bu.

Crop Insurance Implications

The tour highlighted disease outbreaks in both crops in some areas, pointing out the potential for yield-robbing pressure through the end of the growing season and for quality concerns at harvest time.

“We hope contaminants such as aflatoxin and vomitoxin won’t be a widespread issue, but that is a concern, given the conditions,” says Bruce Green, FCSAmerica vice president for insurance operations.

Producers who have a concern should contact their insurance specialist to find out how to go about getting samples at the appropriate time and to learn more about certified testing facilities and salvage grain buyers. We’ll supply more details as the season progresses.


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FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.