Iowa Farm Outlook & News

  • Aug. 2017 Cattle on Feed:
       U.S.: 1,000+ Head Feedlots: 10.604 million head, up 4.3% from last year
       Iowa: 1,000+ Head Feedlots: 650,000 head, up 8.3% from last year
       Iowa: <1,000 Head Feedlots: 460,000 head, down 12.4% from last year
  • Sept. 2017 Prices for 2017/18 Crops:
       Corn $3.20 per bushel, down 10 cents last month
       Soybean $9.20 per bushel, down 10 cents from last month
  • Sept. 2017 Yield for 2017/18 U.S. Crops:
       Corn 169.9 bushels per acre, up 0.4 bushels from last month
       Soybean 49.9 bushels per acre, up 0.5 bushels from last month
  • Sept. 2017 Yield for 2017/18 Iowa Crops:
       Corn 187.0 bushels per acre, down 1 bushel from last month
       Soybean 57.0 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from last month
Hay and Pasture (9/1/17)

According to USDA's weekly Iowa Hay Summary (report NW_GR312), hay prices have been mostly steady during August. Third cutting alfalfa hay reached 82% complete during the final week of August, 10 days ahead of average with 35% being reported as fair and 25% reported as good to excellent. For the week ending Friday, September 1, fair quality grass large square bales were in the $105 to $130 range. The hay market could begin to pick up as second and third crop were not as abundant as originally thought with the dry weather throughout the state during July and much of August.

The weekly crop conditions index published by USDA started to indicate some easing of drought conditions in Iowa as of late-August. For the second week in a row heavy rain fell in parts of Iowa, with western Iowa having above normal precipitation per the Drought Mitigation Center. For the week ending August 27, Iowa pastures rated poor to very poor declined from 43% to 40% from the prior week. Pastures rated in good to excellent condition stayed about the same at 25%.

The Crop Estimates That Continue to Surprise (9/12/17)

The September USDA crop estimates continue a run of surprising the market and disappointing the bulls. The national corn yield estimate once again exceeded trade expectations by roughly a couple of bushels. At 169.9 bushels per acre, we are still staring at the 3rd largest corn crop ever, trailing only the 2014 and 2016 crops. Crop usage projections remain robust, but the growth in yields translated to 2017/18 ending stock estimates rising to 2.335 billion bushels and the average market price falling to $3.20 per bushel. A similar storyline holds for soybeans. The national yield estimate exceeded trade expectations, with the current estimate at 49.9 bushels per acre. That leads to a record 4.4 billion bushel soybean crop. Soybean usage remains strong, with exports still leading the way. But ending stocks are set at 475 million bushels, up 130 million from the previous year, and the average market price estimate was lowered to $9.20 per bushel, down 10 cents from last month. So in both cases, projected big crops have gotten bigger. And that's not the news the markets wanted to hear.