Drought Pushes Corn Production Estimates DownBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · August 2, 2012
Due to continuing drought conditions in the major growing regions of the U.S., corn production estimates for 2012 have dropped to 12.077 billion bushels, the smallest harvest in five years. Estimated yield per acre has fallen to 137.2 bushels per acre, down from the USDA's earlier forecast of 146 bushels.
Estimates of total harvest, yield per acre, and area to be harvested continue to dwindle in the country’s driest year since the mid-1950s. The USDA predicts that almost 10% of the total planted area will be lost from the harvest, and this estimate may be optimistic if drought conditions worsen. Prices for corn continue to rise as yield estimates fall.
Climate experts say the dry weather is likely to continue, with below-average rainfall expected at least through August. More than half the country has been hit by the drought, which has seriously impacted pollination and growth of corn plants.
Planning ahead, Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, has announced that it will import corn from Brazil in order to lower its feed costs. The feed industry is also taking steps to deal with a possible shortage of corn. The American Feed Industry Association has urged President Obama to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard’s ethanol blending mandate, which requires the ethanol industry to use more than 40% of the U.S. current corn production for fuel production.