U.S.D.A. raises corn, soybean forecasts

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its October Crop Production report forecast 2008 U.S. corn production at 12,200 million bus, up 1% from September but down 7% from the record crop of 13,074 million bus in 2007.

Soybean production in 2008 was forecast at 2,983 million bus, up 2% from September and up 11% from 2,676 million bus last year.

Both U.S.D.A. crop forecasts were above pre-report trade expectations that averaged near 12.07 billion bus for corn and 2.92 billion bus for soybeans.

Corn yield based on Oct. 1 conditions was forecast at 154 bus an acre, up 1.7 bus from September and up 2.9 bus from last year. If realized both production and yield will be the second largest on record. Harvest area was forecast at 79.2 million acres, down 93,000 acres from the previous forecast and down 7.3 million acres from 2007 but the second largest area since 1944.

"Yield forecasts are lower than last month across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and eastern Corn Belt as dry conditions during September continued to adversely affect the late developing corn crop," the U.S.D.A. said. "Yield prospects improved in the central Corn Belt, Central Great Plains and upper Mississippi valley as September rains brought much needed moisture to the region."

The average soybean yield was forecast at 39.5 bus an acre, down 0.5 bu from September and down 2.2 bus from last year. Area for harvest was forecast at 75.5 million acres, up 3% from September and up 18% from 2007. If realized, the soybean crop will be the fourth largest on record and harvest area will be the largest.

"Compared with last month, (soybean) yields are forecast lower or unchanged across the Corn Belt and Great Plains, with the exception of Illinois and Kansas," the U.S.D.A. said.

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