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USDA Increases US Corn and Soybean Yields, but Stocks Remain at Multi-Year Lows

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The USDA increased its yield estimates for this season’s US corn and soybean crops, offering modest relief for US grain inventories that are at multi-year lows. 

In its November WASDE report, the USDA forecast corn yields of 172.3 bushels per acre, up 0.2% from last month’s estimate. It pegged soybean yields at 50.2 bu/acre, up 0.8% from last month. The agency’s yield estimates are the last it will issue before the final report for the 2022 growing season comes out in January. 

Gro’s machine-learning yield forecast models, which update daily during the growing season, have continued to show yields below those of the USDA, even as the agency successively reduced its own forecasts in most of its monthly reports. For the past six years, Gro’s US Corn Yield Forecast Model has been within 1.7% of the USDA final January report by the preceding September, and our US Soybean Yield Forecast Model has been within 0.8% of the USDA’s final number by September. 

This Gro display shows a historical comparison between Gro’s US corn and soybean yield forecast models and USDA estimates. Over the past 15 years, the USDA has revised its corn yield estimates 25% of the time between November and January, while its soybean yield estimates were revised 57% of the time, a Gro analysis shows. 

The USDA left US corn exports unchanged despite a dismal start to the US corn export program. Currently, US corn total sales commitments are down 53% versus this time last year. Brazil and Ukraine FOB export prices continue to be offered at a hefty discount to US corn, although this could change when the Black Sea exporting agreement for Ukraine is set to expire on November 19. 

US soybean crush was increased 0.4% to 61.1 million tonnes (2.245 billion bushels) as the value of crushed soybeans (soybean oil and soymeal meal) soars in comparison to the cost of soybeans, representing the highest incentive for soybean processors on record. US soybean exports were left unchanged. 

In other adjustments, the USDA cut its estimate for EU corn production by a further 2.5% from last month, or down 23% from last year, following this summer’s heat waves. 

The agency also lowered its forecast for Argentina soybean production from last month by 2.9% to 49.5 million tonnes, and cut its forecast for Argentina wheat by 11.4% from last month, or 31% down year over year, due to drought. But it left unchanged its estimate for Brazil soybean production at 152 million tonnes.

Gro users can keep tabs on Brazil and Argentina crop yields, growing conditions, and export prices using our South American Crop Monitor Displays for corn and soybeans. The machine-learning yield forecast models will begin generating daily forecasts in mid-December. 

The USDA sees 2022/23 Chinese soybean imports at 98 million tonnes, unchanged from last month’s estimate, but 9% up from last year. Gro data shows China’s soymeal inventories are currently at record lows, due in part to low water levels on the Mississippi River slowing US shipments. Gro expects China’s soymeal demand will remain strong as the country continues to expand pork production, as Gro wrote about here.

The USDA’s higher estimates for US corn and soybean production more than offset an increase in US corn feed & residual. As a result, projected US corn ending stocks for 2022/23 rose modestly but remain at a 10-year low. Soybean ending stocks are forecast to be the lowest in seven years, driven by reduced supplies and high crush demand. 

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