Iowa Soybeans Association Skeptical of USDA Soybean Harvest Estimates

Ankeny, Iowa – Iowa’s record soybean crop is even bigger than previous estimates, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Crop Production Report released Thursday. But Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) leaders and analysts aren’t buying it.

Iowa’s average soybean yield was increased by 1 bushel per acre from last month to 61 bushels, the report said. Accordingly, production estimates jumped about 3 percent to more than 606 million bushels.

ISA District 8 Director Randy Miller of Lacona would have believed the USDA a few weeks ago as he prepared to harvest his best soybean crop ever — likely 10 bushels per acre better than normal. But persistent rains have swamped his soybean fields, idled the combine and negatively impacted the quality of his crop. About 20-25 percent of Miller’s soy fields (70-100 acres) are under water.

“It’s hard to be positive as crop conditions add insult to injury,” Miller said. “It’s likely many of the extra bushels I was counting on to make up for lower prices are gone. Plus, I and other farmers could get docked for quality concerns when soybeans are sold.”

The USDA increased national soybean yields slightly to a record 53.1 bushels per acre. But overall production was reduced by 3.5 million bushels to 4.69 billion since harvested acres were lowered 600,000 to 88.3 million.

Projected U.S. soybean exports and domestic demand were left unchanged at 2.06 billion and 2.07 billion bushels, respectively, according to USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) Report. Ending stocks for 2018-19 increased by 40 million bushels to 885 million due to higher old-crop supplies, the WASDE Report said.

Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities, Inc. of West Des Moines, expects the USDA to eventually lower soy production numbers in future reports when harvest and field issues nationwide are considered. In Iowa alone, reports of pod splitting, flooding, lodging and disease are widespread.

“We’re running into real quality issues with a delayed harvest and soybeans sprouting in Iowa, snow on soy in the Dakotas and problems in the Mississippi Delta,” Roose said. “People often say big crops get bigger, but it may not happen this year.”

That could offer farmers some marketing opportunities. Even though basis levels are historically wide, he said that could change. And, there’s a 50-cent-per-bushel carry in the market to hold soybeans until July.

“Those are opportunities so don’t let carries in the market get away,” Roose added. “Hope for basis levels to improve, the trade war with China to end and better demand.”

The USDA predicts the season-average soybean price at $7.35 to $9.85 per bushel, unchanged at the midpoint from last month.

ISA Market Development Director Grant Kimberley said the association is working to boost soybean demand and prices by collaborating with national soybean organizations, hosting buyers from around the world and planning trade missions.

Last month, ISA contributed an additional $50,000 toward sponsorship of a U.S. Soybean Export Council event to be held in Barcelona, Spain in November. The annual conference, attended by buyers from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, seeks to increase U.S. market in new and emerging markets.

“We’re trying to drum up as much business as possible,” Kimberley said. “This includes the conference, a planned trade mission to the Philippines and advocacy efforts to grow the Renewable Fuels Standard for biodiesel.”

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(article submitted by Iowa Soybean Association)