Farmers in the Mid-South and Southeast have shown they can produce high corn yields. (Arkansas and Georgia had some of the highest yields in the nation last year.)
Southern corn growers are at a disadvantage, however, when it comes to their northern brethren, and they will be as long as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service continues to release its first survey-based projections of crop planting intentions at the end of March.
By the end of March (This year’s Planting Intentions report was released March 28), many southern growers have already planted their corn crop or are just days away from putting planters in the field. Thus, when USDA announced near-record corn plantings of 97.3 million acres, the die was already cast for many southern producers.
Corn prices started falling almost before the ink had dried (or the electrons settled) on the March 28 forecast. Southern growers who had not priced their new crop corn with futures or forward contracts were looking at futures prices in the $5.60 range for September delivery after they went limit down.
If Southern farmers are serious about growing corn, and it appears they are, they may want to begin talking with USDA about adjusting the release date for the end-of-march planting intentions report.