US: Crop Production

October 12, 2021 11:00 CDT

This monthly report contains crop production data for the U.S., including acreage, area harvested, and yield. Wheat, fruits, nuts, and hops are the specific crops included in the report, but data on planted and harvested crop area are also included. There is also a strong focus on maple syrup, as the report details production, value, season dates, and percent of sales by type. The report also contains a monthly weather summary, a monthly agricultural summary, and an analysis of precipitation and the degree of departure from the normal precipitation map for the month.

Traders look to the Crop Production report for estimates of the current and/or upcoming crops. It is released monthly, but not every crop is updated every month. The key elements of the report are planted acreage, harvested acreage, crop yield, and production. These reports inform the Supply/Demand (WASDE) reports that are released monthly by the USDA. The reports include state-by-state breakdowns, which allows for more detailed analysis of the crops. Because this report is released during the trading session, it can have an immediate effect on the markets.

For the crops that are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall (corn, cotton, soybeans, spring wheat, for example) the planted acreage numbers are initially derived from the USDA Prospective Plantings Report, which is released at the end of March. That number is updated in July after the release of the Planted Acreage Report at the end of June. However, there has been at least one year in which the acreage number had to be re-surveyed because heavy rains delayed plantings and caused producers to either switch crops or skip planting on some acres that year. The acreage estimate for winter wheat, which is planted in the fall and harvested in the spring, is informed by the January Winter Wheat Seedings report.

Harvested acreage is a subset of planted acreage, as not all planted acres get harvested. Excessive rain, drought or other events can reduce harvested acres.

The yield numbers are initially based on trend line estimates. Sometimes they are revised up or down during the season if the weather is particularly favorable or unfavorable. However, the USDA is very conservative about making any changes during the season.

When the crop is still in the ground, the production estimates are determined by the harvested acreage and yield estimates. As the harvest gets underway, the USDA is able to collect objective data on actual production. The first objective production data for winter wheat usually shows up in the May report. The first objective production data for spring wheat, cotton, corn and soybeans usually shows up in the August report. Winter wheat production numbers are usually finalized by the August report, corn and soybeans by November, and cotton by December, but the numbers can be revised at later dates.

Orange production data usually starts with the October report and continues through July. Other crops are included in the reports as well, including oats, barley, sorghum, potatoes, tobacco, lemons, apricots, almonds, such as tobacco.