The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Ag analyst Lester Brown predicts smaller corn crop


Lester Brown

Lester Brown

Lester Brown, a longtime agriculture analyst, said today that he believes the corn crop will drop much lower than the Agriculture Department has estimated.

USDA has reduced its June 12 estimate of the 2012 U.S. corn harvest from 376 million tons to 329 million tons, a drop of 47 million tons or 12 percent, but Brown said he believes the crop will go down 25 percent from the previous estimate or a decline of 95 million tons.

Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute, said his estimate came from rising temperatures and the elimination of photosynthesis in corn when it reaches a temperature of 104 degrees.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted at a White House news conference on Wednesday that it is still difficult to predict the change in the size of the corn crop.

“There is some degree of uncertainty about all of this,” Vilsack said. “Technology has allowed us to have more drought-resistant crops. The spotty nature of drought, the spotty nature of rains can sometimes result in better yields than anticipated. We're just going to have to see.”

Earth Policy Institute
Earth Policy Institute Corn Harvest Data (MS Excel file)