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In a move that surprised most grain marketing experts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased the estimated final 2019 U.S. average yields for both corn and soybeans in the January 10 USDA Crop Production Report.

USDA increased the estimated final 2019 national average corn yield by one bushel per acre and increased the total 2019 U.S corn production by 30 million bushels, compared to USDA estimates in November of 2019.

USDA also increased the estimated 2019 national average soybean yield by one-half bushel per acre in the January 10 report, but kept the expected total 2019 soybean production level very near the level in the November USDA Report.

The picture in the state of Wisconsin was a bit different, given that farmers faced an uphill climb beginning in the fall of 2018. The final crop production data from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service reflects that struggle continuing throughout 2019.

The agency released the final Crop Production Summary for 2019 for Wisconsin's harvest of corn, soybeans, dry hay, alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures for dry hay, other dry hay, oats, winter wheat and potatoes.

Corn for grain production last year was estimated at 450 million bushels, down 3% from the Nov. 1 forecast and down 17% from the 2018 crop year. The state's corn for grain yield was estimated at 168 bu/acre, the Nov. 1 forecast and down 17% from the 2018 harvest.

The national estimate for the corn crop was 13.7 billion bu/acre, down 5% from the revised 2018 estimate. The yield of 168 bu/acre was down 8.4 bu/acre below the 2018 yield of 176.4 bu/acre.

Area harvested for grain across the U.S. was estimated at 81.5 million acres, up less than 1 percent from the revised 2018 estimate. Area harvested for grain in the Badger state is estimated at 2.68 million acres, down 160,000 acres from the Nov. 1 forecast and 490,000 acres below 2018.

Corn planted for all purposes in 2019 is estimated at 3.8 million acres, down 50,000 from the Nov. 1 estimate and down 3% from 2018.

With many farmers coping with wet fields, much corn was left standing until colder temperatures allowed them to harvest the crop as silage. Corn for silage production in Wisconsin is estimated at 18.2 million tons, up 36% from 2018. The silage yield estimate of 17.5 ton/acre is 2/5 tons lower than 2018. According to the report, producers harvested 1.04 million acres of corn for silage, an increase of 370,000 acres from 2018.

Soybean production down

While soybean production estimated at 79.9 million bushels in 2019 was up 320,000 bushels from the Nov. 1 forecast, the yield was a disappointing 24% below 2018's yield. Wisconsin soybean growers averaged 47 bu/acre in 2019, up 1 bu/acre from the Nov. 1 forecast but 1 bu/acre below the 2018 yield.

The national average for soybean production fared a little better, with soybean growers across the country producing 3.56 billion bushels of soybeans in 2019, down 20% from 2018. The average national yield was estimated at 47.4 bu/acre, down 3.2 bushels from 2018.

The national harvested area for soybeans was down 14% from 2018 to 74 million acres, while the planted acreage in Wisconsin, at 1.75 million acres, was down 21% from 2018.

The scramble for hay

All dry hay production for the state is estimated at 2.78 million tons, down 6% from 2.95 million tons in 2018. Producers averaged 2.14 tons/acre, down 2.17 tons/acre in 2018. All hay harvested acres are estimated at 1.3 million acres, down 60,000 acres from 2018.

Many producers experiencing winterkill found themselves reseeding new alfalfa fields. According to the report, Wisconsin growers seeded 480,000 acres of new seedings of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures in 2019, up 170,000 acres from the previous year.

Alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures for dry hay production is estimated at 2.11 million tons, up 10% from 1.93 million tons in 2018. Producers averaged 2.4 tons/acre, up from 2.35 tons/acre in 2018. Harvested acres, at 880,000 were up 60,000 acres from 2018.

Other dry hay production is estimated at 672,000 tons, 35% below 2018. Producers averaged 1.6 tons/acre, down from 1.9 tons/acre in 2018. Harvested acres of other hay, at 420,000, were down 120,000 acres from the previous year.

Oats and wheat

Last year, state producers planted 265,000 acres of oats, up 65,000 acres over 2018. While planted acreage increased, production did not, with the yield per acre for 2019 coming in at 54 bushes, down 7 bu/acre in 2018. The national average for yield per acre for the oat crop in 2019 was 64.3 bu/acre.

In 2019, the USDA reports that Wisconsin growers planted 195,000 acres of winter wheat, down 45,000 acres in 2018. Growers harvested 150,000 of those acres for a yield of 64 bu/acre, down 6 bu/acre from the 2018 harvest. The national yield per acre for winter wheat was 64.3 bu/acre, just down slightly from the 2018 estimate.

Corn for grain production last year was estimated at 450 million bushels, down 3% from the Nov. 1 forecast and down 17% from the 2018 crop year. The state's corn for grain yield was estimated at 168 bu./acre, the Nov. 1 forecast and down 17% from the 2018 harvest.

Potato growers, on the other hand, experienced an uptick in production last year, with 28.2 million cwt., up 4% from 2018. Yield is estimated at 415 cwt/acre, up 10 cwt/acre from last year. Planted and harvested acres are estimated at 70,000 acres and 68,000 acres, respectively.

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