By Russ Pankonin and Tina Kitt
Imperial Republican/Wauneta Breeze
While the national forecast predicts a smaller U.S. corn crop than projected, farmers in southwest Nebraska look to be bucking that trend.
“There’s a huge crop out there,” Frenchman Valley Co-op grain manager Ryan Schultz said this week.
From reports he’s received, it appears farmers are experiencing yields 10 to 15 percent above average.
He said he’s heard numerous reports of dryland corn averaging more than 100 bushels per acre, some as high as 130 bushels per acre.
The same pace stands true for irrigated corn. Field yields above 250 bushels per acre have been reported.
One area farmer said last week this year’s corn crop may well be the biggest he’s ever harvested.
Harvest progressing well
Schultz estimated the progress of this year’s irrigated corn harvest at more than 50 percent complete, while the dryland harvest is nearly complete.
This year’s near-perfect harvest conditions come as a welcome relief to farmers when compared to last year.
Last year, the corn harvest stretched into December for some farmers when first, the crop wouldn’t dry down, and second, it came with mid-October snowfalls.
Storage an issue
With this year’s bin-buster of a crop, storage has already become an issue with area elevators already piling corn on the ground.
Farmers are also utilizing their own on-farm storage and several new bin sites have cropped up this fall.
However, the size of the crop isn’t the only factor affecting available corn storage.
Schultz said elevators are still holding much of this year’s wheat crop due to a wide basis in the market.
Basis is a factor of transportation and handling costs, along with economics of supply and demand.
The basis is representing the difference of what grain is selling for on the board of trade and the local cash price. Schultz said that basis is running $1.69 per bushel for wheat and 69 cents per bushel on corn.
As of Wednesday morning, the cash price for corn at FVC in Imperial stood at $4.98 per bushel, down slightly from highs of $5.14 hit last week.
The rally in corn prices occurred after government reports that national corn yields would be down this year.
Farmers are expected to harvest an estimated 12.7 billion bushels of corn this year, down 3.8 percent from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s September projection and down 3.4 percent from the record 13.11 billion bushel crop of 2009.
U.S. corn stockpiles are expected to fall to 902 billion bushels, the lowest since 1996.
As a result, the price of corn rallied nearly a $1 last week as it charges toward the $6 market on the Chicago Board of Trade.
The last time corn prices were at these lofty levels was in September 2008. Since reaching all-time Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) highs near $8 in mid-2008, corn prices on the board of trade have dropped below $3 a bushel before settling into a $3.25 to $4.50 trading range the past two years.
Corn prices began to rally in September after Russia announced a ban on grain exports in August due to drought. Other grain exporting countries have experienced problems this year as well.
The weaker U.S. dollar is also attributed to playing a role in these higher prices, as the dollar index has dropped to $77, making U.S. commodities more competitive in the global export market.