The USDA increased its estimates for 2023 US corn and soybean production in one of the agency’s largest ever end-of-season revisions.
In its January WASDE report, the USDA projected corn yields of 177.3 bushels per acre, up 1.4% from last month’s estimate. That in turn boosted forecasted production by 0.7% to a record 15.342 billion bushels (389.7 million tonnes). Corn harvested acres were cut slightly.
US corn ending stocks for 2023/24 are projected to be the highest in five years.
The soybean yield estimate also was raised, by 1.4% to 50.6 bu/acre, and production is seen at 4.165 billion bushels (113.4 million tonnes). With the projected uptick in supplies, soybean ending stocks are now seen at 280 million bushels, a 14.3% jump from last month.
The USDA’s revisions bring the agency’s estimates significantly closer to Gro’s own final estimates, which Gro’s machine learning-based Corn and Soybean Yield Forecast models projected four months ago.
The USDA’s new corn yield estimate is now 2.8% below Gro’s final estimate of 182.45 bu/acre issued in September. The agency’s soybean yield estimate is now just 0.4% below Gro’s final estimate of 50.8 bu/acre made in September.
View this Gro display of how Gro’s in-season yield forecast models have historically performed against USDA estimates.
The USDA WASDE report also focused on the start of South America’s growing season. The agency cut its forecast for Brazil soybean production to 157 million tonnes, down 2.5% from last month’s estimate, to reflect the early season erratic rainfall and heat stress that has afflicted many parts of the country.
However, Gro’s Brazil Soybean Yield Forecast Model, which went live for the season in mid- December, is currently indicating that deeper yield cuts are needed. Gro’s yield forecast models update on a daily basis, in contrast to the monthly WASDE estimates.
The USDA also reduced its estimate for Brazil’s corn crop by 1.6% to 127 million tonnes. Brazil’s safrinha, or second corn crop, which accounts for the bulk of production, will be planted starting this month.
The USDA increased its estimate for Argentine soybeans from last month by 4.2% to 50 million tonnes. Beneficial rains since mid-October — which may have been helped by El Niño — have lowered Gro Drought Index readings and boosted soil moisture levels for both Argentina’s soybeans and corn, as Gro wrote about here.
US winter wheat seeded area for 2024 is expected to total 34.425 million acres, down 6.2% from last year. Total hard red winter wheat acreage is seen down 5% from 2023 — especially in Kansas and Texas — while soft red winter wheat acreage is down 13%.
The USDA also raised its estimate for China corn production to a record 288.8 million tonnes based on the latest area and yield data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. As a result, the agency increased its estimate for global corn ending stocks by 3.2%.