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Can corn keep up?

Key shifts in U.S. corn production are decelerating yield growth, according to a new report released today by researchers at the Rabobank International Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group. The report, titled “Can Corn Keep Up?” finds that yields are likely to grow at a much slower rate than historical and trendline analysis would suggest and anticipate 2012 growth will be below current USDA estimates.

The Rabobank International Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group’s “Can Corn Keep Up?” report notes that increased corn acres on less productive land, and reduced crop rotation make it unlikely that U.S. corn yield will increase significantly enough to move world grain stocks out of historically low levels. The report also notes only a 50% probability that U.S. corn production will keep up with worldwide demand.

“We’ve known for some time that corn yield increases will not be able to keep up with the surging global consumption,” said Sterling Liddell, Global Strategist with the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team. “In the next three to five years, there is very little room for error as ethanol, exporters and livestock feeders all compete for the available supply.”

The report delves into factors such as the recent and dramatic expansion of planted geographies, decreases in crop rotation, increased density of plant populations and the slowing growth of technological advancements that had been fueling the growth in yields year over year.

“To this point, technology has played an important role in advancing the yield curve,” Liddell said. “However, at this point, we don’t see game-changing technology on the immediate horizon that would enable producers to make faster strides toward replenishing world grain stocks.”

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