Agriculture Department forecasts giant corn, soybean crops

Friday, September 10th 2004, 11:16 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Farmers continue on track for a record corn crop and the nation's second-best soybean crop, the Agriculture Department said Friday.

The department's September crop report forecast a record corn harvest of 11 billion bushels, up 8 percent from last year's record and up 38 million bushels from last month's projection. The department forecast a record corn yield of 149.4 bushels per acre, up 7.2 bushels per acre from 2003.

Weather has been good this growing season, but the department said it was concerned about the possibility of crop-damaging frost before the corn is fully mature in the northern Corn Belt and bordering parts of the Great Plains. There have been brief periods of freezing weather in those areas.

With supply up, the department lowered its projected price for corn by a nickel per bushel, to a range of $2 to $2.40 per bushel.

Soybean production was forecast at 2.8 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the previous forecast, based on a dip in projected yields to 38.5 bushels per acre, 0.6 bushels per acre below the August projection. The department said it lowered the projected yield based on brief freezing temperatures in northern soybean growing areas. The report said the weather slowed development of plants which already had been growing slowly. In 2001, the nation harvested a record of almost 2.9 billion bushels.

The department cut its soybean price forecast by 5 cents per bushel on the low end of the price range, to $5.35 per bushel. It reduced its high-end price forecast by 15 cents per bushel, to $6.25 per bushel.

U.S. wheat stocks were unchanged in the September report, but the department raised its world stock estimate to a record level of 610.6 million metric tons, an increase of almost 2 million metric tons from last month. The U.S. stocks were estimated at 57.8 million metric tons. The previous world record for production, set in the 1997-98 crop year, was 610 million metric tons.

Expecting no increase in wheat usage, the department lowered the projected U.S. price by 5 cents per bushel, to a range of $3 to $3.50 per bushel.