WILLMAR -- On Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its final crop production estimates for the 2011 crop year, and USDA's numbers confirmed what Minnesota farmers already knew -- that 2011 could not compare with the record-breaking year of 2010.
USDA estimated that Minnesota farmers harvested 1.2 billion bushels of corn in 2011, down 7 percent from the previous year's record-high production of 1.29 billion bushels.
The reduction in corn production came despite a 400,000-acre increase in Minnesota's harvested acres of corn in 2011, to 7.7 million acres. Therefore, the reduction in corn production reflected a rather sharp reduction in yields.
According to USDA, Minnesota's average corn yield in 2011 was 156 bushels per acre, down 21 bushels from the previous year's record high of 177 bushels per acre.
Corn yields in most neighboring states were also lower in 2011. The state averages were: North Dakota - 105; South Dakota - 132; Wisconsin - 156. The one exception was Iowa, which had a 2011 average corn yield of 172 bushels per acre, 7 bushels higher than its 2010 average of 165.
In the case of soybeans, Minnesota's 2011 production and yield estimates were also down dramatically.
According to USDA, soybean production in Minnesota totaled 270 million bushels, down 18 percent from the 2010 record high of 328.9 million bushels.
The average soybean yield in Minnesota was 38.5 bushels per acre, down 6.5 bushels from the 2010 average of 45 bushels per acre. However, the lower yield was not the only factor resulting in the 18 percent reduction in production. Minnesota's harvested acreage of soybeans in 2011 totaled 7.02 million acres, which was down 290,000 acres from 2010.
Soybean yields in all neighboring states were also lower in 2011. However, there was a large range of yields. The state averages were: Iowa - 50.5; North Dakota - 28.5; South Dakota - 37; Wisconsin - 46.
Minnesota sugar beet producers also witnessed a smaller harvest in 2011. According to USDA, sugar beet production in Minnesota totaled 8.91 million tons, down 24 percent from 2010.
Sugar beet yields in Minnesota averaged 19 tons per acre in 2011, down 7.6 tons from the previous year's record high of 26.6 tons per acre.
USDA releases latest supply estimates
Results from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest Grain Stocks Survey found that the nation's supply of corn has decreased, while soybean supplies have increased.
As of Dec. 1, corn supplies in the U.S. totaled 9.64 billion bushels, down 4 percent from one year ago. Of the total supply, 6.18 billion bushels were stored on farms, down 2 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm supplies, at 3.47 billion bushels, are down 8 percent from a year ago.
The survey found that U.S. soybean supplies totaled 2.37 billion bushels, up 4 percent from a year ago. On-farm soybean supplies totaled 1.14 billion bushels, also up 4 percent from one year ago. Off-farm supplies, at 1.23 billion bushels, were up 3 percent from Dec. 1, 2010.
USDA's survey found that Minnesota's supplies of corn and soybeans were both lower than a year ago.
As of Dec. 1, corn supplies in Minnesota totaled 1.07 billion bushels, down 11 percent from one year ago. Of the total supply, 810 million bushels were stored on Minnesota farms, a decrease of 10 percent from the previous year.
The survey estimated Minnesota soybean supplies at 238 million bushels, down 7 percent from a year ago. Of the total supply, 135 million bushels were stored on Minnesota farms, down 7 percent from Dec. 1, 2010.
Minn. hog inventory up
According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Minnesota hog producers had an inventory of 7.8 million hogs and pigs on Dec. 1. That number was equal to the Sept. 1 inventory, but up 1 percent from a year ago.
Minnesota's breeding hog inventory totaled 560,000 head, unchanged from a year earlier. Market hogs and pigs totaled 7.24 million head, up 1 percent from a year ago.
Minnesota's September-November pig crop totaled 2.99 million head, up 3 percent from a year ago, but down slightly from the June-August period. The 290,000 sows that farrowed had an average litter of 10.3 pigs, up from 10.15 a year ago.
The U.S. inventory of hogs and pigs totaled 65.9 million head on Dec. 1, up 2 percent from a year ago, but down 1 percent from Sept. 1, 2011.
December corn, soybean, milk prices decline
According to the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service, prices received by Minnesota corn farmers during December averaged $5.20 per bushel, a decrease of 33 cents from the November average price. A year ago, Minnesota corn prices during December averaged $4.42 per bushel.
December soybean prices averaged $11.10 per bushel, down 40 cents from November. Last December, soybean prices averaged $11.30 per bushel.
Minnesota milk prices during December averaged $20.70 per hundredweight, down $1 from November's average price. One year ago, Minnesota milk prices during December averaged $16.30 per hundredweight.
Wes Nelson is the executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.