USDA pegs Illinois No. 1 for soybeans, No. 2 for corn output




BLOOMINGTON – USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service final crop production estimates for 2021 confirm a bin-buster harvest.

But, strong demand estimates coupled with production issues elsewhere in the world could keep the pressure on prices.

Nationwide, soybean production totaled a record 4.44 billion bushels (up 5% from 2020) with an average yield of 51.4 bushels per acre (up 0.4 of a bushel). Corn production was estimated at 15.11 billion bushels (up 7% from 2020 and the second-largest on record) with a record yield of 177 bushels per acre.

In Illinois, soybean production totaled 672 million bushels with an average yield of 64 bushels per acre (up 4 from 2020). Both are tops in the nation and the yield is a new state record, surpassing the previous mark of 63.5 bushels recorded in 2018.

Corn production in Illinois finished at 2.19 billion bushels (second-highest in the nation behind Iowa) with an average yield of 202 bushels per acre (up 21 bushels from the previous year and second-highest in the Corn Belt). It’s the second-highest corn yield average in history in Illinois, behind the current record of 210 bushels in 2018.

USDA estimated 2021 sorghum production at 448 million bushels, up 20% from last year due to a 24% rise in acres. The average sorghum yield (69 bushels) was down 4.2% from the previous year.

USDA’s quarterly stocks report pegged crops stored in all positions as of Dec. 1 totaled 11.6 billion bushels of corn (up 3% from the previous year), 3.15 billion bushels of beans (up 7%) and 1.39 billion bushels of wheat (down 18%).

“Overall, it looks like these reports are neutral to a little friendly when you look at the big scope of things,” Randy Martinson, of Martinson Ag Risk Management, said during a teleconference hosted by the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.

Strong crop output in the U.S. was countered with a large cut (9.5 million metric tons, mmt) in global soybean output. USDA also lowered its corn production estimates by 3 mmt in Brazil and .5 mmt in Argentina.

“The big change is on the global side,” Karl Setzer, AgriVisor commodity risk analyst, told the RFD Radio Network.

USDA raised its 2021/22 season-average price estimates by 50 cents for soybeans to $12.60 per bushel and by 10 cents for wheat to $7.15. The season average price estimate for corn was unchanged at $5.45.

USDA raised ending stocks by 47 million bushels for corn (to 1.54 billion bushels), 10 million bushels of soybeans (350 million) and 30 million bushels for wheat (628 million) in its world ag supply and demand estimates report.

“That’s still relatively tight, although it’s up 10 million bushels from last month,” Setzer said of the bean stocks estimate.

Meanwhile, despite this month’s increase, wheat stocks are still down 26% from last year and are at the lowest level since 2013/14.

Demand also remains relatively strong, with corn used for ethanol up 75 million bushels to 5.32 billion bushels. Exports, however, declined for corn and wheat and remain unchanged for beans.

“On the demand side, ethanol (corn use) increased by 75 million bushels because of strong demand and margins,” Martinson said. “We did see exports drop, which could be a little premature by USDA with all the issues we’re seeing in South America.”

As for wheat, Illinois harvested 610,000 acres last year with a record statewide yield of 79 bushels per acre. USDA estimates farmers planted 34.4 million acres of winter wheat last fall, up 750,000 from the previous year.

(This story was distributed through a cooperative project between Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and farming news, visit