Record crops may mean lower, competitive prices in South Carolina

A record crop in 2017 may mean South Carolina producers will have to adjust their 2018 budgets to account for lower prices.

Corn, cotton and soybeans all had good crops this year, according to Clemson agricultural economists Nathan Smith and Scott Mickey at the recent 2018 Ag Outlook conference.

“Corn is one of our top crops,” Smith said in a Clemson news release. “A record yield was reported in South Carolina at 137 bushels per acre and record U.S. yield at 275 bushels per acre. Prices have dropped because of a large U.S. crop, so it’s going to be competitive in 2018. December futures slid from trading as high as $4.14 in July to $3.37 on Nov. 28.”

Corn export inspections fell in the middle of the average trade projection at 25.1 million bushels, according to the release, that number being slightly behind a mid-November report of 26 million bushels and the 2016 total of 32.6 million bushels.

Soybean production in 2017 was one of the largest crops the state has ever seen, Mickey said, with 400,000 acres of the crop being planted throughout the state.

“The soybean crop was a great crop for producers,” Mickey said. “Unfortunately, prices were not as good as they had hoped.”

South Carolina is expected to have a record yield at 37 bushels per acre, according to Clemson.

Mirroring the state, the nationwide soybean crop was also a record crop – a total of 90.21 million acres of soybeans were planted in the United States in 2017, and another near-record yield of 49.5 bushels per acre is projected.

Earlier in December, about 250 growers were given the message that uniformed crops and updated technology are key to having successful corn and soybean crops at the first-ever South Carolina State Corn and Soybean Growers Meeting hosted by Clemson Cooperative Extension.

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Five factors – a fertility program, proper nitrogen management, stand establishment and ear county, proper root growth and soil density, and pest management strategies – can help produce high-yielding corn crops, Missy Bauer, an independent crop consultant with B&M Crop Consulting in Coldwater, Michigan told them.

South Carolina cotton producers also reported good numbers in 2017, according to Clemson.

The USDA shows 250,000 acres of cotton were planted in the state in 2017 and that producers are expected to harvest a 940-pound-per-acre yield, second best on record, the news release said.

“Cotton producers looking for pricing opportunities in 2018 will have to closely watch the markets and budget more closely,” Smith said. “What is encouraging for cotton producers is cotton use is up, and we have strong exports. Hopefully, the lower prices will encourage more exports and more use.”

A majority of U.S. cotton exports go to Vietnam, but Smith said those involved with the cotton industry should closely watch China’s purchase activity with the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Another good production was seen with peanuts, Smith said.

“The 2017 crop is one of the best yields South Carolina has ever had,” he said. “Right now, we’re looking at two ton peanuts in the state. I almost want to call it a ‘warehouse buster.’ We’re probably going to fill up all of the available storage space for peanuts.”

Prices for peanuts were up in 2017, Clemson said, but the large crop “probably will lead to lower prices in 2018.”

Smith said an increased use of peanuts may be expected due to there being an additional supply.

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“And with exports, as the shelled prices comes down, we’ll see more peanuts being exported. This will help with our supply situation.”

Across the board, Smith said, with corn, soybeans, cotton and peanuts, things will look similar for all crops – except peanuts.

“Peanuts probably will be the crop that could lose to the other crops,” he said, “because of the lower price projection.”

 

 

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