Seventy-six percent of soybean crops have emerged, again beating the five-year average of 59 percent. Sixty-seven percent of soybean crops are currently rated in good or excellent condition, which is five percentage points lower than through the first week of June 2020. Additionally, 90 percent of corn has emerged, which also compares favorably to the five-year average of 82 percent. Seventy-two percent of the corn crop is currently rated in good or excellent condition, which is down four percentage points from the previous week’s report. It is also three percentage points lower than through the first week of June 2020.
Ag News Highlights
U.S. ag exports projected to hit record high
The USDA updated its forecast for U.S. ag exports for fiscal year 2021, lifting the headline number to a record $164 billion. The projection is an increase of $7 billion over February’s forecast, including increases in the outlooks for corn, soybeans, livestock, poultry, and dairy exports. The record outlook comes as a result of strong demand (as the global economy continues to recover from the pandemic) and reduced competition, both of which have contributed to the sharp rise in commodity prices seen in recent months.
China is expected to remain the largest importer of U.S. ag goods; their forecasted $35 billion in ag purchases includes record shipments of soybeans, corn, tree nuts, beef, wheat, and poultry products.
Farmland values rising sharply
According to Farmland National Company, farmland values have soared in the first half of 2021. Rising ag commodity prices, higher profits, and government aid stemming from the pandemic have driven strong demand for farmland, while the supply of farms for sale remains relatively low. Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations at Farmland National Company, says sale prices are up by 5-to-15 percent in the past six months. Because of ag commodity prices, the gains in farmland values are generally restricted to cropland; pastureland values have seen only modest increases.
Drought changes plans for California farmers
Intense and persistent drought conditions and low expectation of receiving water from state and federal agencies that regulate the state’s reservoirs and canals are causing farmers in California to plan for a shortage of water for crops. These plans include fewer acres dedicated to almonds, a famously thirsty crop, and leaving a significant portion of useable acres unseeded. It could also lead some farmers to plant more drought-resistant crops, such as agave, in order to derive some productivity from land which could be too dry to grow the region’s traditional crops.
Ernest Conant, California-Great Basin regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation, says they are hopeful sufficient water can be allocated for agricultural users “sooner than October,” but there are no guarantees as the state still needs to endure wildfire season.