Corn, Hay Costs Could Rise

The good news is there will be ample supplies of corn and hay for cattle producers, the bad news is these stocks likely will cost a little more this year.

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data show expectations of a national average corn yield of 168.5 bushels per acre, down 6.8, or 3.88%, from last year’s 175.3 bushels and about equal to the 2015 yield of 168.4 bushels.

That yield was expected to net a US annual production of 13.901 billion bushels, down 1.325 billion, or 8.70%, from 15.226 billion last year and up 300 million, or 2.21%, from 2015’s 13.601 billion.

Annual 2017 US corn feed use and residual was estimated at 5.650 billion bushels, up 110 million, or 1.99%, from 5.540 billion in 2016 and up 520 million, or 10.1%, from 5.130 billion in 2015.

Corn exports for 2017 were expected to decline.  NASS put them at 1.975 billion bushels, down 245 million, or 11.0%, from 2.220 billion last year, but up 77 million, or 4.06%, from 1.898 billion in 2015.

But corn feeders and exporters have some competition for available supplies.  US annual corn food, seed and industrial use was expected to decline only slightly from 2016’s record of 6.735 billion bushels to 6.725 billion for a decline of 10 million bushels, or 0.15%.  Still, food, seed and industrial use of corn this year was expected to be up 90 million, or 1.36%, from 2015’s total of 6.635 billion.

All of that will leave expected ending stocks of 2.118 billion bushels, down 399 million, or 15.9%, from 2.517 billion last year but up 381 million, or 21.9%, from 1.737 billion in 2015.

NASS’ estimated average annual corn price received by farmers was expected to rise this year, but remain a far cry from the 2012 record high of $6.89 a bushel.  This year’s average farm gate price was expected to be $3.30 a bushel, up $0.15, or 4.76%, from $3.15 last year but $0.31, or 8.59%, below the 2015 average of $3.61.



Hay stocks always are difficult to measure and estimate, but NASS placed them at 92.16 million short tons, down 930,000, or 1.0%, from 93.09 million last year and down 2.830 million, or 2.98%, from 2015’s 94.99 million.

Of that, alfalfa hay production was estimated at 61.79 million short tons, down 310,000, or 0.50%, from the 2016 total of 62.100 million but up 2.820 million, or 4.78%, from 2015’s 58.970 million.

Other hay production this year was estimated at 77.520 million short tons, up slightly from last year’s 77.490 million, and up 2.106 million, or 2.79%, from 2015’s production of 75.414 million.




After trading on the livestock exchange Wednesday at an average of $138.40 per cwt on a live basis, down $1.75 from $140.15 a week earlier, fed cattle began to trade in the Plains.

Cash cattle traded at $138 to $138.50 per cwt live on Wednesday, but the volume came at $138, down $2 to $3.50.  Thursday, more traded down to $136.

Dressed-basis trade was down $9 to $10 at $220 per cwt.

The USDA’s choice cutout Monday was up $1.71 per cwt at $249.40, while select was off $0.01 at $225.50.  The choice/select spread widened to $23.90 from $22.18 with 68 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Friday was $145.98 per cwt, down $0.50.  This compares with Monday’s May settlement at $142.52, down $2.02.