The outlook for corn and soybean farmers in Wisconsin and nationwide remains foggy even after the release Jan. 10 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Crop Report.” Moreover the USDA will be re-surveying estimates and reporting again in March.

Wisconsin’s 2019 corn-for-grain production was estimated at 450 million bushels, according to the USDA’s “National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production 2019 Summary.” The production estimate declined 3 percent from the USDA’s Nov. 1 forecast. It also declined 17 percent from 2018.

The state’s average yield was estimated at 168 bushels per acre – the same as the national-average yield estimate. Wisconsin’s 168-bushel-per-acre yield was 5 bushels greater than the Nov. 1 forecast. But the state’s area harvested for grain was estimated at 2.68 million acres, a decline of 160,000 acres from the Nov. 1 forecast – and 490,000 acres less than 2018.

Corn planted for all purposes in 2019 in Wisconsin was estimated at 3.8 million acres, a decline of 50,000 acres from the Nov. 1 estimate. Corn acreage declined 3 percent from 2018.

The state’s corn-for-silage production was estimated at 18.2 million tons, an increase of 36 percent from 2018. The silage-yield estimate of 17.5 tons per acre is 2.5 tons less than 2018. Producers harvested 1.04 million acres of corn for silage, an increase of 370,000 acres from 2018.

National estimates released

On a national level the USDA reported that corn stocks declined 5 percent from December 2018. Soybean stocks declined 13 percent for the same time period.

Corn stored in all positions as of Dec. 1, 2019, totaled 11.4 billion bushels. That was a decline of 5 percent from Dec. 1, 2018. Of total stocks 7.18 billion bushels are stored on farms, a decrease of 4 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks at 4.21 billion bushels declined 6 percent from a year ago.

Estimates for September through November 2019 indicated disappearance was 4.52 billion bushels compared to 4.54 billion bushels during the same period the previous year.

There weren’t any big surprises in the USDA’s report, said Mark Jekanowski, acting world-agricultural-outlook board chairman. But the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service did reduce by a fair amount its estimates for 2018 corn production and stocks, he said.

That led to a little greater carry-in than expected. The National Agricultural Statistics Service increased production estimates for corn in January. The greater beginning stocks and the modest increase in production – based mainly on greater yield estimates – led to a large increase in total supply, he said.

Soybean declines reported

The USDA reported that soybeans stored in all positions as of Dec. 1, 2019, totaled 3.25 billion bushels. That was a decrease of 13 percent from Dec. 1, 2018. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 1.53 billion bushels. Soybean stocks declined 21 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks at 1.73 billion bushels declined 5 percent from last December.

Wisconsin’s soybean production in 2019 was estimated at 79.9 million bushels. That’s an increase of 320,000 bushels from the Nov. 1 forecast. But it’s a 24 percent decrease from 2018.

Wisconsin soybean growers averaged 47 bushels per acre in 2019 – an increase of 1 bushel from the Nov. 1 forecast. The average yield was 1 bushel less than the 2018 yield. The harvested acreage of 1.7 million is a decrease of 30,000 acres from the Nov. 1 estimate and 480,000 acres less than 2018. Soybean-planted acreage at 1.75 million acres declined 21 percent from 2018.

The USDA will be re-surveying final estimates; the U.S. “Stocks Report” will be delayed until the March report. That will keep markets guessing, according to Jacob Christy, commodity trader with The Andersons.

Brenda Boetel will provide updated market perspectives at the Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum. She’s the department chairperson and a professor in agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She commented Jan. 10 on the USDA’s corn and soybean report. U.S. corn-export estimates declined from 1.85 billion bushels in December to 1.775 billion bushels for January.

“We’ll inch our way back,” she said.

“Phase 1” of the trade agreement between the United States and China is expected to have the largest impact for soybeans, beef, pork and corn.

“We should see exports improve gradually,” she said.

China is expected to purchase $200 billion in U.S. products. Between $40 billion and $50 billion of that will be for agricultural products.

“We won’t reach $40 billion right away,” Boetel said.

She said 2013 was a record year when the United States sold $29 billion worth of agricultural exports to China. Even if the two countries were to sign a trade agreement in 2020 it would be unrealistic to reach that amount soon.

“I don’t expect that to happen in 2020 or 2021,” she said.

While U.S. soybean exports to China will likely increase, most soybeans won’t be shipped until November. China has traditionally purchased Brazilian soybeans in February.

The Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 28 in Varsity Hall in Union South, 1308 W. Day St., Madison, Wisconsin. Visit for more information.