USDA Market Reporters Upbeat About Crops

8/24/2013 7:00 AM
By Jessica Rose Spangler Market Editor

EPHRATA, Pa. — “It’s like driving on the yellow brick road,” Rick Whipp said, referring to the potential bumper crop of corn and other grains the East could have this fall. “Grains out here look wonderful. Forages are phenomenal.”

Whipp is a dairy market news reporter for the Agriculture Marketing Service branch of the USDA. He and Levi Geyer, livestock and grain supervisory market news reporter in New Holland, Pa., visited Lancaster Farming’s offices on Aug. 13.

“The big problem is there’s a lot of wet bales. It’s hard to buy dry hay,” Geyer said, noting that a recent load of dry alfalfa hay sold for more than $500 a ton in Lancaster County.

While harvest this year may be much heartier than recent years, the dairy industry needs to be cautious.

“When there’s feed, the dairy industry thinks they can grow,” Whipp said.

But Geyer was quick to point out that increases in feed quantity could lead to the rebuilding of beef herds too.

“I think you’ll see a pull-back in slaughter numbers because of herd building. We killed a lot of Mexican cattle last year. We’re finally working through the surge and people are starting to rebuild their herds. They’ll really start rebuilding if the weather holds,” he said.

According to the Aug. 12 crop production report released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, corn production is forecast at 13.8 billion bushels, up 28 percent from 2012. If realized, this will be a record for the U.S. Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 154.4 bushels per acre, up 31 bushels from 2012. That would be the highest average yield since 2009.

Soybean production is forecast at 3.26 billion bushels, up 8 percent from last year. If realized, it will be the third largest on record. Yields are expected to average 42.6 bushels per acre, up 3 bushels from last year.

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