U.S.D.A. forecasts smaller corn and soybean crops

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast 2007 corn production at a record 13,168 million bus, down 150 million bus, or 1%, from its October forecast and up 2,633 million bus, or 25% from 2006. U.S. soybean production was forecast at 2,594 million bus, down 4 million bus from October and down 594 million bus, or 19%, from last year’s record large crop.

Average corn yield based on Nov. 1 conditions was forecast at 153 bus per acre, down 1.7 bus from October but up 3.9 bus from a year ago and second only to the 2004 record high of 160.4 bus. Harvested area was forecast at 86.1 million acres, unchanged from October, up 15 million acres from 2006 and the largest area since 1933.

"Forecast (corn) yields are lower than last month across the northern and western Corn Belt and adjacent areas of the Great Plains where actual harvest results are revealing that the impact of the hot, dry conditions during pollination was worse than initially expected," the U.S.D.A. said.

Soybean yields were forecast to average 41.3 bus per acre, down 0.1 bu from October and 1.4 bus below a year ago. Harvested area was unchanged from October at 62.8 million acres, but down 11.8 million acres from last year’s record large area.

"Compared with last month, yields are forecast higher in Indiana, Michigan, Texas and most of the Mid-Atlantic region as producers are realizing higher yields than expected," the U.S.D.A. said. "In contrast, yield prospects decreased or were unchanged across the remainder of the nation as harvest progressed."

The U.S.D.A. corn and soybean production and yield forecasts all were below average trade expectations but within the range of estimates.

Sorghum production was forecast at 515 million bus, up 13 million bus from the October forecast and up 237 million bus, or 85%, from 2006.

The U.S. rice crop was forecast at 198 million cwts, up 860,000 cwts from October and up 4 million cwts from 2006.

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