Iowa Farm Outlook & News

  • July 2019 Cattle:
       U.S.: All Cattle and Calves: 103 million head, steady with last year
       U.S.: Beef Cows: 32.4 million head, steady with last year
       U.S.: Dairy Cows: 9.3 million head, down 1.1% from last year
       U.S.: Replacement Heifers: 4.4 million head, down 4.3% from last year
       U.S.: Cattle on Feed: 13.6 million head, up 2.3% from last year
       U.S.: Estimated Calf Crop: 36.3 million head, down 0.3% from last year
  • Aug. 2019 WASDE:
       U.S. Corn Planted Area: 90 million acres, down 1.7 million from last month
       U.S. Soybean Planted Area: 76.7 million acres, down 3.3 million from last month
       U.S. Corn Yield: 169.5 bushels per acre, up 3.5 bushels from last month
       U.S. Soybean Yield: 48.5 bushels per acre, steady with last month
       2019/20 U.S. Corn Ending Stocks: 2.18 billion bushels, up 171 million from last month
       2019/20 U.S. Soybean Ending Stocks: 755 million bushels, down 40 million from last month
       2019/20 U.S. Corn Price: $3.60 per bushel, down 10 cents from last month
       2019/20 U.S. Soybean Price: $8.40 per bushel, steady with last month
Forage Conditions and Feed Costs (8/1/19)

While corn prices are up due to an expected lower supply of corn, pasture conditions are in great shape. It is a rare year in that corn prices are significantly higher while pasture conditions are in better shape than is usually expected this time of year. For the week ending July 28th, 56% of Iowa pastures are in good or excellent condition and only 12% are in poor or very poor condition. The last time pasture conditions were this good was in 2016. New crop hay began to make its way onto the market in June. This hay supply was welcome by cattle producers who began buying for both current and distant needs. Very little 2018 hay was left. The second smallest May 1 Iowa hay stock figure was recorded this year - just 55,000 tons larger than the post drought stricken year of 2013. According to USDA's Agricultural Prices report, Iowa hay prices in June were on average $22 per ton higher than the previous year. Alfalfa prices were $22 higher while other (grass) hay prices were $25 higher. The Iowa Hay Summary report by USDA's Market News, which provides more current hay prices, shows that prices have softened compared to year ago levels. For the week ending July 26th prices are down on average $20 per bale but there is considerable variation depending on type (alfalfa/grass vs. grass), quality (premium, good, fair vs. utility) and large vs. small bales. It was noted in the report that overall the hay quality was below what growers were hoping for. Bountiful pastures and lower hay prices could nudge cow-calf producers and backgrounders to retain cattle longer. USDA's Risk Management Agency adjusted the 2019 haying and grazing date from November 1 to September 1 to help farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres. This too could extend the grazing window and add to harvested forage supplies. The feed cost situation could lead to shifts in how gain is added to feeders this year and could impact timing of feedlot placements.

Not a Good Day for Corn (8/12/19)

The August update contained a few surprises for the markets. Corn planted area dropped, but only to 90 million acres. The national corn yield estimate rose 3.5 bushels to 169.5 bushels per acre, so the total production estimate rose 26 million bushels to 13.9 billion bushels. While production was going up, usage was sliding. For 2018/19, corn usage for ethanol was reduced by 25 million bushels. For 2019/20, ethanol was lowered by 25 million bushels and exports declined by 100 million bushels. Add everything up and 2019/20 corn ending stocks are estimated at 2.18 billion bushels, up 171 million, and the season-average price fell to $3.60 per bushel, down 10 cents. For soybeans, planted area was set at 76.7 million acres, down 3.3 million from the previous estimate. The national yield estimate remained at 48.5 bushels per acre. That puts national production at 3.68 billion bushels, down 165 million from last month. As with corn, the usage adjustments were in the negative direction with 2018/19 crush reduced 20 million and 2019/20 exports taken down 100 million. The changes put 2019/20 ending stocks at 755 million bushels, down 40 million from last month; but the season-average price remained at $8.40 per bushel.