USDA updates U.S./Texas corn production estimates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has raised the nation’s corn production estimate to 12.3 billion bushels, an increase of 573 million bushels over the July crop estimate, according to data released Aug. 12.

The report indicates the crop is on pace to be the second largest in U.S. history, according to agriculture officials.

But for many Texas producers, it's a different story, said Dr. Mark Welch, Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist.

Many areas in Texas have experienced extreme dry weather the last few months, and the corn crop has suffered, Welch said.

“A lot of Central Texas and Blackland region yields have been disappointing,” he said. “We just ran out of water. Some ears never fully developed and others were unable to fill properly, resulting in very disappointing yields. That 126 bushels includes the High Plains irrigated crop. There have been many areas where yields have been a disappointment in Texas. ”

For Texas, the agriculture department estimates an average corn yield of 126 bushels (based on total harvested acres in the state), including both dryland and irrigated acres.

Nationally, Welch said, Tuesday’s report showed a “remarkable recovery” from Midwest flooding earlier this growing season.

“Nationally, we had a late crop going in,” he said. “It was so wet, so cold. On today’s rating, that (yield projection for the area) of 155 bushels to the acre is just amazing. What’s interesting in the report, they lowered planted acres and increased harvested. That tells you they got the crop back in, replanted it, or the crop survived on some acres that weren’t expected to.”

The higher corn harvest estimate will likely increase demand by ethanol production facilities, some of which had scaled back production due to rapidly escalating corn prices, Welch said.

“This will give incentive to feed more and convert more to ethanol,” he said.

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters this week:

CENTRAL: Most counties only received traces of rain; not enough to help the drought. Livestock producers continued to supplementally feed cattle to maintain their condition. Stock tanks were getting low, and trees were showing signs of drought stress. Hay production was minimal. The harvesting of grain sorghum and corn was nearly completed. Cotton was opening bolls, but low yields were expected.

COASTAL BEND: The cotton harvest was ongoing. County agents reported hot and dry conditions.

EAST: Scattered light showers fell over most of the area, but the rain brought little to no relief to the extremely dry conditions. Showers helped to green pastures but did not add to the soil moisture or stock ponds. Armyworms were reported in hayfields and pastures in Nacogdoches and Henderson counties. Producers were feeding hay forages and pastures were drought-stressed. Most cattle were in fair to good condition. Oxygen depletion in ponds was causing fish kills. Anderson County was put under a burn ban.

FAR WEST: Very dry conditions prevailed, affecting all crop development. Even irrigated cotton was beginning to suffer due to lack of rain. Dryland sorghum fields were not doing well. Corn just barely made it to maturity. Melons were selling well, but the crop was damaged from a hail storm in some areas. Long chiles recovered from the hailstorm, but onions did not fare so well.

NORTH: Temperatures hovered around 100 degrees for several days. There has been no significant rain since the end of June. Extreme heat has depleted top soil moisture, which is typical for August. Pastures and hay meadows were beginning to show stress from lack of moisture. Corn, soybeans, grain sorghum and cotton were all in fair to good condition. Cotton was squaring and setting bolls with about 10 percent of the bolls opening. Corn harvest began, and early reports indicate that the last few weeks of hot, dry weather have hurt the yields. Aflatoxin levels were higher and more prevalent than anticipated. Grain sorghum, soybeans and summer pastures were also showing stress. Some soybeans were baled for hay. Corn and sorghum were harvested for silage in some areas. Though range and pasture conditions are not good, cattle seem to be in fair to good condition.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average. Soil moisture varied from adequate to very short with most areas reporting short. Corn tasseled and was rated mostly fair. Cotton varied from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair. The crop was squaring and setting bolls. Peanuts and sorghum varied from very poor to good with most areas reporting fair. Sorghum varied from very poor to good with most areas reporting fair. Range conditions deteriorated under the extreme heat and dry conditions. Cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Tropical storm Edouard brought slightly cooler temps but no rain. Conditions remained hot and dry over most of the region. Crops were beginning to wilt, and even with a rain many are not expected to be harvestable. Cotton plants were short and had stopped growing. Most of the cotton crop began blooming though plants are less than 1 foot tall. The sorghum crop was in fair to good condition, though some plants have started twisting, a sign of drought stress. If the region doesn’t get a rain soon, the sorghum crop will be likely be lost too. Pastures were beginning to play out and the condition of livestock has been declining.

SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions are still adequate in this region due to rain brought by Hurricane Dolly. As soils dried, field operations resumed. The cotton harvest picked back up, but indications were that yields will be disappointing. Preparations for fall planting began. Hot and dry weather conditions continued to deteriorate forage quality in native range and pastures. Producers were forced to supply supplemental feed to livestock in some counties. If more rainfall is not received in some areas of the region within the next 15 to 20 days, herd-size reductions may have to take place. Livestock producers with improved pastures began to bale hay.

SOUTH PLAINS: The weather continued to be hot and dry, which stressed many crops. Producers continued to irrigate and fertilize. Soil moisture was very short to short. Cotton was in fair to good condition. Irrigated cotton looked in good shape, but dryland cotton was suffering from the heat and lack of moisture. Corn was in fair to good condition, having reached the dent stage and most fields are holding on. However, irrigation was non-stop. Sorghum was in fair to good condition. Irrigated sorghum was heading and looked fairly good. Dryland sorghum was stressed. Peanuts were in fair to good condition and were progressing well. Pumpkins were in good condition under continued irrigation. Pastures and ranges were in fair condition. Cattle were in good condition.

SOUTHEAST: Many parts of the region greened up thanks to rains brought by recent storms. Three-cornered alfalfa leaf hopper was reported in soybeans, and Mexican rice borer moths were found in traps. There was no soybean rust on soybeans or on kudzu, which also hosts the disease. Hay fields were stressed lack of moisture. Livestock were doing fairly well despite the heat and stressed pastures.

SOUTHWEST: The region remained very dry with year-to-date cumulative rainfall of only 4.1 inches, compared to the long-term average of more than 14 inches. Ranchers reduced stocking rates and were providing heavy supplemental nutrition to remaining livestock. Limited forage for wildlife from brush remains available as a result of last year’s above average rainfall, but high-quality forage was in short supply. Some ranchers are providing food and water for wildlife. The corn and sorghum harvest continues. Cotton and peanuts continued to make good progress under heavy irrigation.

WEST CENTRAL: Hot, dry conditions continued in most areas. A few counties have reported scattered rain showers from a tropical storm Edouard, but accumulations were not enough to help. There was no field activity due to drought conditions. Crops continued to suffer, with some fields "burning up" due to extreme heat and lack of moisture. Hot temperatures decreased production and quality of range and pastures, causing producers to sell livestock. Hay supplies were limited. Stock tanks and ponds were drying up.

TAGS: Corn
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