High Yields, Drop In Ethanol Demand Due To COVID-19 Could Hurt Corn Producers

Apr 2, 2020

Corn field In Elkhart County, Indiana.
Credit Samantha Horton / IPB News

Agricultural economists forecast a potentially record high year for corn yields at the same time the coronavirus pandemic is hurting industries that rely on the crop. This in turn could hurt prices and farmers.

Feed and ethanol production combined use almost 80 percent of U.S. corn produced.

Sharp declines in gasoline prices and people sheltering in place are causing ethanol plants to shutdown at facilities across the country.

If farmers are able to plant crops on time and see good weather conditions, Purdue University agricultural economist Jim Mintert forecasts there could be 15.8 billion bushels of corn this year. He says the drop in ethanol demand will slash corn prices and ripple through the agricultural community.

“If you look at what's taking place right now, with these ethanol margins and the potential to shut these plants down and have them stay offline for an extended period, it's possible we could drop corn going into ethanol, by in the ballpark, of 400 million bushels,” says Mintert.

He says the full effect will depend on how long the COVID-19 outbreak lasts.

Contact Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.