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WASDE: U.S. Corn Crop Second Largest Ever in 2016

U.S. farmers will harvest 13.9 billion bushels of corn, the second-largest crop ever, and 3.785 billion bushels of soybeans next year, USDA said in its first projections of the new crop. The new crops would follow three years of bumper crops since the searing 2012 drought and would mean low commodity prices will persist into 2018.

The corn crop would be 2% larger than this year’s 13.654 billion bushels, the third-largest crop on record, and the soybean harvest would be 5% smaller than the record 3.981 billion bushels of this year but still rank as the third-largest if USDA’s projections prove true.

The 2016 corn crop would fetch an average $3.60 a bushel and soybeans $8.65 under USDA’s projections. By comparison, this year’s corn crop is estimated to sell for a season-average $3.65 a bushel, lowest in six years, while the farm-gate price for 2015 soybeans is forecast at $8.90 a bushel, lowest in nine years.

USDA’s projections assume normal weather and yields in the new year and are based on supplies and market conditions in November. The projections will be updated in February for USDA’s annual Outlook Forum. 

The wheat crop was projected at 2.060 billion bushels, marginally larger than the 2.052 billion bushels grown this year and in line with the three-year average.

USDA projected plantings of 90.5 million acres of corn, 82.0 million acres of soybeans, and 53.0 million acres of wheat. By far, corn, soy and wheat are the three most widely grown crops in the country. In 2015, farmers sowed 88.4 million acres of corn, a near-record 83.2 million acres of soybeans, and 56.4 million acres of wheat.

Earlier this week, analysts said they expected an upturn in corn acreage, which has fallen for three years in a row, and less land planted to soybeans after back-to-back record-setting crops. 

Along with low prices for the 2016/17 marketing year, USDA projected little change to mammoth corn supplies although soybean ending stocks would fall due to high oilseed demand. The soybean stocks-to-use ratio for 2016/17 was projected at 10.9% compared to 12.4% for the current marketing year.

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