Acreage intentions will be revealed in USDA’s March 30 Prospective Plantings report, but much of the current discussion centers on prospects for the U.S. average corn yield. University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good says the size of the 2012 crop has substantial price implications. Crop size will be determined by: the timing of planting; the magnitude and potential change in the trend yield; the expected summer weather conditions; and the location and magnitude of acreage changes.
With all other things being equal, it is expected that early warmth will permit farmers to plant their corn crops early. Agronomic research in the Corn Belt reveals a slight yield penalty for extremely early planting, a wide planting window for maximum or near maximum yield potential would be early to mid-April through early May, and a yield penalty for late planting that increases with the lateness of planting. Good says – the majority of the crop is planted in the optimum window in most years.
Opinions about likely summer weather in the Corn Belt center on the El Nino/La Nina Southern Oscillation. The Climate Prediction Center forecasts that the winter La Nina is transitioning to neutral conditions. According to Good, – historically, such a transition has usually been associated with corn yields near trend value, although deviations in both directions have occurred. Yet, others are suggesting a transition to an El Nino and increased chances of an above-trend yield in 2012.