News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 9, 2013

Time for moderation: Expert projects returns per acre in corn, soybeans will be less than a year ago

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — With the drought of 2012 a recent memory, the agricultural theme this year is moderation, according to a Purdue University agricultural economist.

After a period of strong returns in 2010, 2011 and even 2012, professor Chris Hurt projects that 2013 returns per acre in corn and soybeans will be at least two-thirds less than what they were a year ago. And that’s mainly because of a drop in average grain prices per bushel.

“The theme this year is moderation, after periods of strong returns driven by the demand of corn for ethanol and of soybeans in China,” Hurt said during the Grain for Good farm economy forecast and breakfast. “But I don’t see a bust either. The boom won’t be followed by a bust.”

The challenge for farmers and the agribusiness community will still be to provide quality nutrition to a growing world, he said.

Hoosier farmers and the agribusiness community will see a “tremendous recovery” from last year’s crop production, Hurt said. As of last week, about 79 percent of planted corn was rated at good or very good, while 74 percent of soybeans were ranked good or very good.

As of now, it looks like a good crop year, based on a later planting of corn, Hurt said, predicting an average yield of 173 bushels per acre planted in corn. The normal average is 165 bushels of corn, he said, but in 2012 the actual yield averaged only 99 bushels.

Indiana is a big excess producer in its agricultural products, both grain and livestock, Hurt said, and that is good for the rest of the nation and the world.

“Food is a funny thing,” he said. “When it’s abundant and low cost, people don’t think about it. But when there’s a low supply, people panic. Food is strategic. If people aren’t fed, there will be social revolution.”

Food is a continual concern in many African and Middle Eastern nations, he said, and in China, feeding people is second only to homeland security as a national priority.

“In America, we don’t have food as a priority. It’s just taken for granted,” Hurt said.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.