The old story goes that a particularly crotchity old man took one final swipe at his family by having the following epitaph engraved on his tombstone:  “Well, I told you I wasn’t feeling well!”

I feel a bit that way today as I watch the corn and soybean markets explode upward.  “Well, I told you it was dry!”  Dryness, of course, is not the only driver of the increases, so far, of 60-cents per bushel for soybean futures, 25-cents per bushel on corn and $15 per ton on soybean meal.  But rainfall totals below 50% of normal over the past 30 days from northern Illnois westward through Iowa and northern Missouri have caused some deterioration of what was once a very promising crop (See Figure 1).

Figure 1

ProFarmer’s annual crop tour generated some pretty impressive yield forecasts for most states but their forecast national corn yield is 154.1 bushels per acre.  That is just slightly lower than USDA’s August estimate of 154.4 bushels per acre but, when combined with the 1.8 million acre reduction in harvested acres predicted by ProFarmer, it leaves the crop at 13.46 billion bushels, 300 million lower than USDA’s August forecast. 

ProFarmer’s findings for soybeans were even more alarming, I thought, in that pod numbers are below the levels of the past five years in every surveyed state but Ohio, and are even lower than last year in both Illinois and Iowa.  ProFarmer shaved 800,000 acres off USDA’s harvest expectation and estimates the national yield at 41.8, just 0.8 bushels lower than USDA's August estimate.  That would put the crop at 3.158 billion bushels vs. USDA’s August figure of 3.255 billion bushels.  But the real driver for soybeans has been the impact that an early frost might have on such a late-planted crop.