Figure 1 shows that the USDA annual forecasting cycle for corn starts at the end of March with Prospective Plantings (PP) reports released by NASS. These reports contain information about producer planting intentions based on producer responses to the March Agricultural Survey. Good and Irwin (2011) provide a thorough review of the survey procedures used by the USDA. Planted acreage estimates from Prospective Plantings reports serve as a foundation for early production estimates by USDA.
Crop Progress (CP) reports are released by NASS each week during the growing season (April through November). “CP reports contain weekly cumulative planting, fruiting, and harvesting progress and crop condition of selected crops in major producing states over the growing season. These estimates are based on survey data collected from around 4,000 respondents… Progress data for corn are expressed as a percentage of the crop planted, silking, dough, dented, mature, and harvested… Condition data are expressed as a percentage of the crop in excellent, good, fair, poor, and very poor condition. These estimates should reflect the effects of all variables on the status of a crop, such as temperature, precipitation, planting date, solar radiation, insect infestation and disease” (Lehecka, 2014, p. 90).
The WASDE forecasting cycle for the corn marketing year (September through August) starts in May preceding the marketing year and continues for 18 months until November following the marketing year. WASDE reports are released between the 9th and the 12th of each month at 3 pm EST until April 1994, at 8:30 am EST from May 1994-December 2012, and at 12 pm EST from January 2013 to present. These reports, released by the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) combine supply and use information from all available sources, including National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), Economic Research Service (ERS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and combine it in a balance sheet format that shows resulting changes in ending stocks and price. Separate balance sheets are maintained for over 90 countries to produce estimates for both US and World supply and use for major crops and livestock. When WASDE reports are released simultaneously with other reports (such as Crop Production) they include the latest information from these reports.
Additional information on expected supply becomes available at the end of June from the annual Acreage reports that provide updated survey information on planted acreage and estimates of harvested acreage. Both Acreage and Prospective Plantings reports were released at 3 pm EST through 1994, at 8:30 am EST from 1995-2012, and at 12 pm EST from 2013 to present. Crop Production reports for corn are released from August through November and include and survey-based estimates of acreage, yield and production. The Crop Production Annual Summary reports published in January contain final production information for corn. Crop Production reports typically have been published between the 9th and the 12th of each month and released at 3 pm EST until April 1994, at 8:30 am EST from May 1994-December 2012, and at 12 pm EST from January 2013 to present.
Grain Stocks reports track available supply throughout the marketing year, which is a function of annual production and the pace of use, and are issued by NASS quarterly, in the beginning of January, and at the end of March, June, and September and describe stocks in storage at the beginning of these months. These reports describe stocks of multiple crops, including corn, soybeans, and wheat, as well as the number and capacity of on- and off-farm storage facilities. The release schedule for Grain Stocks reports changed similarly to the other reports described above with 3 pm EST release time through June 1994, 8:30 am EST release time from September 1994-September 2012 and 12 pm EST release time from January 2013 to present.
Export Inspections reports are released by Agricultural Marketing Service weekly on Mondays during the marketing year and reflect the quantity of commodities inspected for export by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) during the previous week beginning on Friday and ending on Thursday, midnight. Exports exempted from inspection are included in Export Sales reports. Export Sales reports cover the same reporting period as the inspections report, but are released later in the week on Thursday. Thus, “Export Inspections reports provide the first public reporting of a fairly comprehensive measure of the current pace of confirmed exports. However, if sales or cancellations of designated commodities are large enough, the USDA issues a daily press release.” (Colling, Irwin, Zulauf, 1996, p.128).