U.S.D.A. cuts corn, soybean forecasts from August

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its September Crop Production report forecast 2008 U.S. corn production at 12,073 million bus, down 2% from August and down 8% from the record large crop of 13,074 million bus in 2007.

Soybean production in 2008 was forecast at 2,934 million bus, down 1% from August but up 13% from 2,585 million bus last year.

Despite the reductions from August, the 2008 corn crop still is forecast to be the second largest on record and the soybean crop the fourth largest ever. Both U.S.D.A. crop numbers were slightly below pre-report trade expectations and were termed moderately bullish for futures.

Corn yield based on Sept. 1 conditions was forecast at 152.3 bus an acre, down from 155 bus forecast in August but up 1.2 bus from last year and the second highest on record behind 2004, the U.S.D.A. said. Harvest area was forecast at 79.3 million acres, unchanged from August but down 8% from 2007.

"(Corn) yield forecasts are lower than last month across the northern and eastern Corn Belt and the Ohio and Tennessee valleys where the lack of rainfall during August reduced soil moisture supplies and stressed the crop," the U.S.D.A. said. "Yield prospects also decreased across much of the middle Mississippi valley and adjacent areas of the Great Plains as dry weather during August eliminated soil moisture surpluses."

The average soybean yield was forecast at 40 bus an acre, down from 40.5 bus in August and down 1.2 bus from last year. Area for harvest was forecast at 73.3 million acres, unchanged from August but up 17% from 2007.

"Compared with last month, (soybean) yields are forecast lower or unchanged in the mid-Atlantic states, the central and eastern Corn Belt, Louisiana, Nebraska and South Dakota," the U.S.D.A. said. "Yields increased or are unchanged from the Aug. 1 forecast across the Southeast and the remainder of the Great Plains.

"Hurricane Gustav made landfall on Sept. 1, then moved northward through Louisiana and into Arkansas over the course of several days," the U.S.D.A. said. "Because the information in this report is based on conditions as of Sept. 1, the full impact of this weather even is not reflected in this report."

Wheat production estimates were not changed from the August report but will be updated in the U.S.D.A. Small Grains Summary scheduled for release Sept. 30.

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