Although only its first assessment of crops for 2015-16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) painted a generally bearish picture for the top three Illinois crops. Another big harvest this year, coupled with large beginning stocks, is being projected by the USDA to boost total U.S. supplies of beans, wheat and corn, all three of Illinois principal crops.
Bean supplies are projected to rise 3.4 percent and wheat to rise 6 percent. Corn supplies, meanwhile, are estimated to reach a record 15.5 billion bushels. U.S. ending supplies of wheat could grow to a five-year high of 793 million bushels, or 84 million bushels over the previous year. Estimated ending stocks of beans could increase from 350 million bushels to 500 million bushels. These large ending stock projections are driven mostly by a bullish crop production forecast. For example, it is estimated that U.S. farmers will produce 13.63 billion bushels of corn and 3.85 billion bushels of beans in 2015-16. While both of these numbers are down from last season, they are still very healthy crop sizes. If these large harvest actually comes to pass, it is likely that crop prices will tail off.
As of early this month, USDA estimated 2015-16 season average prices per bushel as follows: corn ($3.20 – $3.80), wheat ($4.50 – $5.50) and beans ($8.25-9.75). Almost all of the growing season is still in front of us, so a lot of variables are still in play and most farmers’ attentions are turning toward the weather and its impact on this year’s crops. Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed!