It hasn’t been a great year for farmers. Even though planting season hasn’t started, the industry has been hit multiple times with everything from virus-induced shutdowns to trade wars. But ironically, after a 2019 season plagued by bad weather, it’s Mother Nature offering some hope as we head deep into spring. The latest farm forecast from AccuWeather predicts increased crop numbers due in part to more beneficial conditions.
Now granted, if we were talking about 10 to 20 extra bushels, it wouldn’t make much difference. But this forecast actually calls for some record-setting crops and significant year-to-year increases for others. I’ve asked before if your fields were ready for planting season, but an equally important question is are you ready for changing weather?
AccuWeather Paints a Bright Picture
AccuWeather paints a bright picture for most grain products. The company estimates that soybeans will bounce back from a sluggish 2019 with 4.258 billion bushels. That’s based on 83.5 million acres of farmland producing an average of 51 bushels per acre.
By comparison, that’s a 19.6 percent jump from 3.558 billion bushels in 2019. Last year could also be seen as an outlier, however, as it was the lowest total since 3.357 billion in 2013.
I mentioned significant increases and this would definitely be one. In fact, it would be the largest year-to-year increase since 2004.
Let’s also not forget about wheat. The AccuWeather report estimates 1.874 billion bushels will be produced in 2020. That’s taken from 38.1 million acres producing an average of 49.2 bushels.
And then there’s the record breaker. AccuWeather says to expect a massive year for corn production. In 2016, U.S. farmers produced 15.15 billion bushels of corn, setting the all-time record.
This new report expects that number to be crushed, with 15.486 billion bushels coming to market. That wouldn’t just be a record-breaker, but also a massive jump considering farmers brought in 13.69 billion bushels last year. The projection comes from an estimated 87 million acres planted, bringing an average of 178 bushels each.
Massive Growth Gets Triggered
Massive growth like this doesn’t just happen. It takes a trigger. In this case, several events are coming together. I’ve talked about the benefits of winter wheat previously in this space. Cover crops like winter wheat help prepare the fields, building up the right types of nutrients before the spring planting season.
More farmers are picking up this practice and forecasters took that into account. But even then, you can plant, but without the proper weather it doesn’t mean much. We all learned that last year, when flooding caused two- and three-month planting delays in most areas.
This year’s weather looks to be warm enough to sustain growth, but not hot enough to damage the crops. For the next three months, the Southeast is expected to be roughly 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, with the West coming in at 3 degrees higher and the Mid-Atlantic region is right behind at 2.8.
As for the Midwest? Well, you can expect a 2.5 degree crop increase over last year, according to the AccuWeather for Business forecast. That’s good news for farmers, as the sun will help dry the topsoil after a very rainy February and March.
Surplus Grain Calls for a Grain Storage Plan
While rising temperatures are great for growing crops, it can be a problem for the material already stored. As I’ve talked about before, stored grain has to stay between 15 to 20 degrees of the outside temperature. Otherwise, it’ll start developing rot.
In the winter, it’s fairly easy to moderate that with colder weather. But even in a normal spring, it can be hard to estimate what the temperature needs to be. When you start talking about higher than normal temperatures, that’s not really something you can predict. That’s when you need to turn things over to technology and remotely monitor your grain.
The GrainTrac Solution
The GrainTrac system lets you monitor your stored crops wherever you are, providing both current and past readings so you can compare the two. Additionally, you can set up alarms with GrainTrac, letting you know when the crop’s temperature reaches a danger zone. The equipment takes readings four times a day, while also providing real time temperature data. Then that data is then sent to a secure webserver, so only you have access to the data.
If the AccuWeather forecast holds true, farmers will need to plan for their surplus grain at harvest.