Higher Corn, Soybean Stockpiles Send Futures Prices Lower

Bob McArthur, of Marion, harvests soybeans on Neal Horning's farm in Marion on Satuday, Oct. 4, 2008. Horning has been growing soybeans on his farm for 14 years. (Amanda LaRae Larkin/The Gazette)

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By Ellen Kurt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Futures prices fell Thursday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported higher stockpiles of corn and soybeans on March 1 than market analysts had been expecting.

"We ended up with about 370 million bushels of corn and 53 million bushels of soybeans more than the trade thought we would have on March 1," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines. "That sent the market limit down on corn."

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1 totaled 5.4 billion bushels, down 10 percent from March 1, 2012. Of the total stocks, 2.67 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 16 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks of 2.73 billion bushels are down 4 percent from a year ago.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1 totaled 999 million bushels, down 27 percent from March 1, 2012. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 457 million bushels, down 18 percent from a year ago.

Off-farm stocks of 543 million bushels are down 34 percent from March 1, 2012.

The USDA on Thursday said corn farmers are expected to plant 97.3 million acres this spring. That's up slightly from last year and, if realized, would represent the most corn acreage in the United States since 1936 when an estimated 102 million acres were planted.

Record high corn acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Oregon. Conversely, most states in the Corn Belt, which experienced severe drought in 2012, expect slightly less planted acreage.

Soybean growers are projected to plant 77.1 million acres in 2013, roughly the same as they did in 2012. Nebraska and Minnesota are expecting the largest declines compared with last year, while Illinois and North Dakota are projecting the largest increases.

Iowa corn producers are expected to plant 14.2 million acres of corn this year, unchanged from last year. The state's soybean growers are expected to plant 9.4 million acres, up slightly from 9.35 million acres planted in 2012.

Roose said weather will be a major determining factor for this year's crop, as it was last year when a record drought slashed yields for corn and soybeans. He noted that 25 percent to 30 percent of the corn and soybean production ground west of the Missouri River is still in drought status.

Iowa's average corn yield slipped to 137 bushels per acre in 2012, significantly lower that the 172 bushels per acre recorded in 2011. The average yield per acre was the lowest since 1995 when the USDA set the final figure at 123 bushels per acre.

Iowa farmers produced 1.87 billion bushels of corn in 2012, down from 2.36 billion bushels in 2011.

Iowa's average soybean yield was 44.5 bushels per acre, down from 51.5 bushels per acre in 2011. Production totaled 413.8 million bushels of soybeans last year, down from 475.3 million bushels in 2011.

While Iowa corn and soybean production was lower in 2012, the state still led the nation in production of both crops.

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