USDA forecasts record high corn yields for 2020

The USDA's 2020 Crop Outlook projects that farmer will harvest more than 90 million acres of corn nationwide, but farmers could face challenges due to COVID-19.

Posted: Apr 20, 2020 5:13 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Corn and soybean yields are set to rebound after a wet spring delayed planting in 2019.

Hoosier farmers could see the largest corn crop ever this year. That's according to this year's USDA Crop Outlook.

The USDA's 2020 Crop Outlook projects that farmers will harvest more than 90 million acres of corn nationwide.

"We could potentially have record large corn crop in the US in 2020 with normal weather condition,” said James Mintert, Director of Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.

Mintert said farmers have seen a steady increase in corn yields.

"Over the last 25 years or so, US national average corn yields have been going up about two bushels per acre per year,” said Mintert.
According to the outlook, soybean yields are expected to increase by more than 10 percent compared to last year.

While forecasts look hopeful, fallout from COVID-19 could still hurt farmers. Mintert said the demand for ethanol amid the pandemic will hurt farmers.

"Almost 40 percent of US corn production in recent years has been going into production of ethanol,” said Mintert.

The recent decline is oil and gasoline prices has put pressure on corn prices and ethanol production, a substitute for gasoline.

"We might see a significant reduction in corn use to convert to ethanol. Maybe as much as 400 million bushels,” said Mintert. "We're not likely to see a rapid recovery in demand for corn going into ethanol. So I think the impact of this reduction is probably going to spill over into the summer."

Mintert said prices could also fall if yields meet the forecast due to the large increase in supply.

Mintert said the Federal Crop Insurance Program would help cover farmers if prices continue to fall.

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