Record corn crop harvest predicted

Source: Marc Heller, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, October 17, 2016

U.S. farmers will harvest a record corn crop this year, the Department of Agriculture said, helping to fuel increased production of ethanol.

The department said in its latest monthly forecast that corn production will reach 15.1 billion bushels, based on a yield of 173.4 bushels per acre, both the highest on record.

The forecasts were down slightly from September estimates, but the harvest and other market signs point to a modest increase in corn used for ethanol, Darrel Good, a University of Illinois economist, said in a column on the university’s farmdoc Daily website.

Good predicted the amount of corn used for ethanol in the current marketing year will beat USDA forecasts by as much as 70 million bushels, or a total of 5.345 billion bushels. Production grew in September compared with a year ago, putting the industry on a fast start to the marketing year, he said.

The use of corn for ethanol will be affected by the global ethanol trade, U.S. gasoline consumption and the degree to which producers use other feedstocks — sorghum, for instance — instead of corn, Good said. Inputs and exports are likely to remain stable compared with prior years, he said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that ethanol production in the United States will climb to 15.1 billion gallons in 2016, up from 14.8 billion in 2015.