Corn Crop Still Strong and Good for Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

Even though USDA lowered its forecast for 2009 corn production in the latest report out today due to lower yields, farmers are still expected to see record yields and production is still expected to be the second highest on record.

Corn production is forecast at 12.9 billion bushels, down 1 percent from last month but 7 percent higher than 2008. Based on conditions as of November 1, yields are expected to average 162.9 bushels per acre, down 1.3 bushels from October but 9.0 bushels above last year. Despite the drop in yield from October, this yield will be the highest on record if realized. Total production will be second highest on record, only behind 2007.

corn harvestThe harvest continues to be slow throughout the Corn Belt. According to USDA, just 37 percent of the corn had been combined as of Sunday, compared to 82 percent average and even well behind last year’s slow harvest which was 69 percent complete at this time in 2008. Meanwhile, despite moisture issues, corn quality remains strong, up one percent this week to rate 68 percent good to excellent.

While high moisture and low test weights are getting to be major concerns with the crop, ethanol plants are able to utilize the lower quality corn. Arlan Suderman with Farm Futures spoke with Dave Vander Griend, President and CEO of ethanol developer ICM, Inc. of Kansas about the situation last week.

“We can utilize the crop,” says Vander Griend. “A lot of people don’t want it, which means that it will be discounted. Many people in the industry haven’t been through this before, but I’ve been around long enough to have lived through it before and know that it can work. Ethanol plants can usually beat the price of the other discounts being offered and make use of it.”

Suderman notes that Vander Griend emphasized the importance of farmers talking to their local ethanol processor now about how to best care for and deliver lower quality corn.

corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Farming, USDA