What is a 'Crop Year'

A crop year is a period from one year's harvest to the next for an agricultural commodity. The crop year varies for each product. The crop year influences the price of a commodity, since the quality of the harvest may differ from year to year, depending on weather conditions and other factors.

BREAKING DOWN 'Crop Year'

Due to the timing of the harvests, crop years for most agricultural commodities do not coincide with the calendar year. For example, the crop year for wheat in the United States runs from July 1st to June 30th, while that for soybeans runs from September 1st to August 31st, according to futuresknowledge.com.

Crop years for coffee are even more diverse with three separate crop years: April 1st to March 31st in 13 coffee producing countries, July 1st to June 30th in 7 countries and October 1st to September 30th in 31 more countries, according to thecoffeeguide.org. Crop year variation exists because coffee grows in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Sugar is another commodity with various crop years. For example, in Australia Sugar cane grows for 12 to 16 months before being harvested between June and December each year.

The crop year not only differs from the calendar year but also varies from the accounting year. An accounting year is usually the financial year for an agricultural commodity producer. It can sometimes be the tax year as well. The Farm Business Survey in the United Kingdom says a crop year refers only to those crops (except for certain horticultural crops) wholly or partly harvested during the accounting year and excludes any crop carried over from the previous year.

For some agricultural products, there may be two crops in a year. These timing differences make statistics on worldwide annual production very difficult to collate: any single twelve-month period may encompass a whole crop year in one country but will also include the tail end of the previous year’s crop and the beginning of the next year’s crop in others, according to coffeetime.wikidot.com.

USDA Crop Year Estimates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture continually publishes reports with supply and demand statistics and forecasts for various crop years. These reports show the last crop year's output, an estimate of the current crop year and projections of next crop year's production. Data reported is a measure of output, total supply available, expected use, expected trade and ending stocks. Data is also broken down per commodity.

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