The 2012/13 U.S. corn crop is projected at a record 14,790 million bushels, up more than 2.4 billion bushels from a year earlier. The year-to-year gain reflects a 75-year high in planted area and prospects for record yields with the rapid pace of planting and emergence by early May. The current record for U.S. corn production is 13.1 billion bushels in 2009/10.

Planting proceeded at an unprecedented pace this spring with 71 percent of the corn crop in the ground by May 6. Area planted, as indicated by the March 30 Prospective Plantings report, is 4 million acres higher year-to-year at 95.9 million acres. Harvested acreage, at 89.1 million acres, is based on projected demand for silage, reflecting forecast roughage-consuming animal units (RCAU), projected silage yields, and historical abandonment. The yield projection is based on the simple linear trend of the national average yield for 1990-2010 (164 bushels per acre) adjusted upward 2 bushels per acre to reflect the rapid start to this year’s crop.

As of May 6, 2012, 71 percent of the U.S. corn crop had been planted, compared with 32 percent last season and the 5-year average (2007-11) of 47 percent. Extremely warm weather in April combined with dry spells resulted in record mid-April plantings and early May emergence.

Beginning corn stocks for 2012/13 are forecast at 851.0 million bushels, the smallest since the 1995/96 crop and 277 million below 2011/12. Total supply is expected to be 15,656 million bushels, up 2,150 million from 2011/12.

Increased area and rapid planting drive record corn forecast

Total corn use for 2012/13 is projected at 13,775 million bushels, 1,120 million higher than the estimated 12,655 million in 2011/12 and 709 million higher than the record high in 2009/10. Use is up on higher feed and residual and exports. Projected feed and residual is 5,450 million bushels, 900 million above 2011/12 due to higher expected pork and poultry production, lower corn prices, and increased residual disappearance associated with a larger supply. Exports, at 1,900 million bushels, are projected 200 million higher reflecting abundant supplies, lower prices, and higher expected demand from China. The export forecast is constrained by large global supplies. Sweetener and starch use advanced while corn for fuel is unchanged at 5 billion bushels.

Ending stocks of corn for 2012/13 are projected at 1,881 million bushels, 1,030 million higher than the 2011/12 projection. At 13.7 percent, the stocks-to-use ratio has recovered after very low levels for the past 2 years, mostly due to the large projected increase in production. The 2012/13 season-average farm price for corn is projected at $4.20 to $5.00 per bushel, compared with $5.95 to $6.25 forecast for 2011/12. Lower prices are due to increased expected production, only moderately higher use, and abundant global supplies.