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The largest corn crop ever is coming, USDA says

Largest corn stocks since 1988, too, USDA says.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. farmers will harvest their largest corn crop ever this year, fueled by the largest plantings in seven years, growing so much corn that carry-over stocks will be the biggest since 1988, projected the USDA on Friday.

The soybean crop would be the fourth largest on record, with exports recovering to pre trade war levels due to “increasing global import demand, particularly for China.”

At its annual Ag Outlook Forum, the USDA also projected a wheat crop of 1.836 billion bushels, down 4% from 2019; a rice crop of 232.5 million cwt, up 26% from last year; and cotton production of 19.5 million bales, down 3%. Meat and dairy production was forecast at record highs.

Corn and soybean production will rebound strongly this year, assuming a return to normal weather and yields after 2019, when the rainiest spring in a quarter century prevented farmers from planting millions of acres.

Growers will plant 94 million acres of corn, the largest acreage since 2013, setting the stage for a harvest of 15.46 billion bushels, up 13% from last year and topping the mark of 15.148 billion bushels set in 2016, said USDA. “The U.S. corn outlook for 2020/2021 is for record production and domestic use, increased exports, and higher ending stocks.” It said end stocks would rise to 2.637 billion bushels, the largest since 1988’s 4. 26 billion.

Futures prices make corn more attractive than soybeans at present, said USDA. “However, the potential for a large increase in corn area is dampened, by among other factors, rotational constraints.” Corn acreage would be 1.2 million acres lager than 2019. Soybean plantings of 85 million acres would be 8.9 million acres, or 12%, larger than last year.

“Soybean production is projected at 4.2 billion bushels, 18% above a year earlier with plantings recovering from last year’s weather-related decline, and a return to trend yields,” said the USDA. “Soybean exports for 2020/2021 are projected at 2.05 billion bushels, up 225 million from the 2019/2020 forecast.”

If the projection proves true, soybean exports would be on par with the 2 billion-bushel aveage in the three years before the Sino-U.S. trade war intensified in 2018.

“Increasing global import demand, particularly for China, and a recovery in U.S. market share willl support higher U.S. soybean exports following a sharp decline over the past two years,” said the USDA.

Season-average prices for this year’s wheat and soybean crops are expected to rise; soybeans by 5¢ to $8.80 a bushel and wheat by 35¢ to $4.90 a bushel. But corn would fall to $3.60, down 25¢ because of large supplies.

Cotton exports were forecast steady at 16.5 million bales. “China’s rising imports and easing U.S.-China trade tensions are favorable for U.S. exports to some degree but Brazilian exports are expected to remain near record levels, and the U.S. will face additional competition early in the season as India’s remaining price-intervention stocks become available to world markets,” said the USDA.

Red meat and poultry production was projected at a record 108.8 billion pounds this year, up 3% from last year and the sixth year in a row of increased output. Beef, pork, and broiler meat would each set records, said USDA. Turkey production would rise for the first time in three years but remain below its peak.

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