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USDA pegs corn acreage up from June estimates

Agriculture.com Staff 07/12/2007 @ 7:05am

Total U.S. winter wheat production saw a modest decline in the last month, but remains well ahead of last year's crop, according to the monthly USDA-NASS Crop Production report, released Thursday morning.

Corn and soybean production as of this month is indicated as staying true to earlier projected trends. Corn planted for grain is pegged at 92.9 million acres, up from 78.3 million acres in 2006 and up from the June estimate of 90.5 million acres. Much of this bump is likely at the expense of soybean acres, as NASS pegs an 11-million-acre decline for soybeans this year, at 64.1 million acres compared to 75.5 million acres in 2006. In last month's report, NASS pegged soybean acres at 67.1 million acres.

Thursday's report pegs this year's harvested corn acres at 85.4 million acres, up from last year's 70.6 million harvested acres. NASS also projects 63.3 million acres of soybeans will be harvested this fall compared to 74.6 million acres last year. Like the June report, Thursday's report provided no estimate for either projected corn or soybean yields.

Conditions in June in the nation's midsection were favorable for accelerated corn development, according to Thursday's crop production report, unlike in portions of the southeast, where more acres were planted to corn this spring.

"Beneficial rains provided relief across relief across the central and eastern Corn Belt after an early June drying trend increased stress on pastures and summer crops. But unfavorably dry conditions persist elsewhere in the southeast, contributing to heavy irrigation demands," according to Thursday's report. "With favorable weather conditions during June in most areas, corn emergence continued to progress ahead of normal. With favorable weather conditions during June in most areas, corn emergence continued to progress ahead of normal. On June 10, 99% of the acreage had emerged, two points ahead of last year and four points ahead of normal. All states were at or ahead of normal, except Colorado."

Corn pollination also made accelerated progress in many areas -- ahead of normal in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee -- but has yet to begin in earnest in Michigan and South Dakota, Thursday's report indicates. Soybean blooming, following up on slightly ahead-of-schedule planting and emergence in June, is also ahead of both last year and the previous five-year average.

Thursday's winter wheat production figure -- 1.56 billion bushels -- marks a three-percent dip from the June crop production report, but remains 20% above the 2006 level. Average yields also saw a slight decrease to 41.6 bushels per acre, down 1.6 bushels from last month's report. Total winter wheat acreage remains unchanged from the June 29 acreage report at 37.6 million acres, but this comprises a 21% increase from a year ago.

The U.S. durum crop has seen the most noticeable shift this year, with total production up 47% from this time a year ago. Average durum yields are forecast at 36.4 bushels per acre on 2.16 million acres. This figure, like winter wheat, is also unchanged from the June 29 acreage projection and up 19% from the same time in 2006.

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