Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Corn Harvest Speeds Up as Soybeans Slow Down

Market Intel / October 11, 2018

The U.S. corn harvest is now 34 percent complete, according to USDA’s October 9 Crop Progress report. Corn harvest pace increased by 13 percentage points from last year and 9 percentage points from the five-year average. U.S. corn producers have harvested 5 billion bushels of corn so far. Illinois corn producers continue to lead the harvest, with 1.6 billion of those bushels and 63 percent of the harvest complete. Iowa corn producers, with 15 percent complete, have just begun the corn harvest, but have already harvested nearly 400 million bushels. Figure 1 illustrates the year-over-year percentage point change in corn harvest pace.

USDA’s crop progress report also shows the U.S. soybean harvest moving along steadily, with 32 percent of the soybean crop harvested. In contrast to the corn crop harvest pace, the soybean harvest pace is down 2 percentage points from last year and down 4 percentage points from the five-year average. The current harvest pace is also down from analysts’ estimates of 35 percent of the soybean harvest complete by this point. Soybean producers have harvested 1.5 billion bushels, with Illinois soybean producers harvesting 451 million of those bushels alone. Figure 2 illustrates the year-over-year percentage change in soybean production.

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Megan Nelson
Economic Analyst
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Today we face a different sort of inflation (September’s consumer price index was up 5.4% from last year), with specific disruptions cascading throughout the economy, leading to general shortages and price increases. This is similar in many ways to inflation during wartime, when governments take dramatic economy-distorting steps to deal with the crisis, the shape of demand changes suddenly, and certain production and trade flows are interrupted.

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Credit: Arkansas Farm Bureau, used with permission.  

Released on Sept. 30, USDA’s Quarterly Grain Stocks Report showed that as of Sept. 1 old-crop corn and soybean inventory levels had dropped, compelling USDA to update supply and demand expectations in the October World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, released on Oct. 12. Much higher-than-expected soybean stocks and the subsequent adjustments made for old and new crop supply and demand pushed soybean prices for the 2020/21 marketing year average and the 2021/22 marketing year down sharply.

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