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Economist: corn, soybean crops about as expected

Agriculture.com Staff 09/12/2006 @ 12:46pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's September forecasts of the size of U.S. corn and soybean crops were larger than the August forecasts and about as expected. Forecasts of consumption during the year ahead were also increased, resulting in little change in the forecast of average prices.

The U.S. corn crop is now forecast at 11.114 billion bushels, 138 million larger than the August forecast, almost identical to the size of the 2005 crop, and 693 million smaller than the record crop of 2004. The U.S. average yield is forecast at 154.7 bushels, 2.5 bushels above the August forecast, 6.8 bushels above the 2005 average, and 5.7 bushels below the 2004 record. The projection of harvested acreage for grain is at 71.841 million, 250,000 below the August forecast and 3.266 million less than harvested last year. The month-over-month decline in the harvested acreage forecast was all in South Dakota.

As expected, the estimate of exports during the year ended on Aug. 31, 2006, was increased by 50 million bushels, to a 10-year high of 2.15 billion bushels. Sept. 1, 2006, stocks are forecast at 2.012 billion bushels. That inventory will be estimated in USDA's September Grain Stocks report to be released Sept. 29.

For the current marketing year, USDA increased the forecast of U.S. corn exports by 100 million bushels, to a 17-year high of 2.25 billion bushels, reflecting a small month-over-month increase in the projection of world consumption and small declines in the projection of exports from the Ukraine and the European Union.

With domestic consumption forecast at 9.665 billion bushels, total consumption is expected to reach 11.915 billion bushels, 690 million above the record consumption during the year just ended. Year ending stocks are projected at 1.22 billion bushels, 12 million less than projected last month.

The 2006-2007 marketing year average farm price is projected in a range of $2.15 to $2.55, the same as projected last month and well above the average of $1.99 for the past year. The projected ending stocks-to-use ratio of 10.24% suggests a marketing year average price of $2.36. At the close of trade on Sept. 11, the futures market appeared to be trading an average farm price for the current marketing year of about $2.45.

The 2006 U.S. soybean crop is now forecast at 3.093 billion bushels, 165 million larger than the August forecast, about equal to the 2005 crop, and only 31 million less than the record crop of 2004. The U.S. yield is forecast at 41.8 bushels per acre, 2.2 bushels above the August forecast, but 1.5 bushels below the record yield of 2005. The highest average yields this year are expected in Indiana and Nebraska (50 bushels), followed by Iowa (49 bushels), and Illinois (48 bushels).

The USDA estimates that the domestic crush during the year just ended totaled 1.74 billion bushels, 15 million larger than the August forecast. Exports for the year are estimated at 945 million bushels, also 15 million larger than the August forecast. Sept. 1 stocks were thought to total 485 million bushels. Ending stocks were large, but the current estimate is 85 million bushels less than the forecast of just three months ago.

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