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USDA predicts nation's corn crop will top 13 billion bushels

USDA's August 10 crop production report is projecting a U.S. corn crop of 13.1 billion bushels, a 3-million bushel increase over last month's projection and the largest corn crop since 1933.

USDA also lowered its estimate from last month for the 2007 cotton crop by 200,000 bales.

Corn production is forecast at 13.053 billion bushels, up 24 percent from last year and 17 percent above 2005. Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, yields are expected to average 152.8 bushels per acre, up 3.7 bushels from last year. If realized, this will be the second highest yield on record, behind the 160.4-bushel yield in 2004.

However, production will be the largest on record as growers intend to harvest the most corn acres for grain since 1933. Yield forecasts are higher than last year across the Great Plains, where frequent rainfall during much of the growing season provided abundant soil moisture for filling the crop.

Higher yields are also expected in the central Corn Belt and Delta, where timely rains benefited the crop. Expected yields across much of the northern and eastern Corn Belt, Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley, Southeast, and Atlantic Coast states are below last year as hot, dry conditions during much of the growing season reduced soil moisture supplies and stressed the crop.

USDA projects average corn yields for Arkansas at 153 bushels per acre, compared to 125 bushels for Mississippi, 150 bushels for Louisiana and 95 bushels for Tennessee's mostly dryland crop.

Cotton production is forecast at 17.3 million bales, down 20 percent from last year's 21.6 million bales. Yield is expected to average 783 pounds per harvested acre, down 31 pounds from 2006. Upland cotton production is forecast at 16.5 million bales, 21 percent below 2006.

Texas producers are expecting to produce 6.1 million bales of upland cotton, up 5 percent from last year. With ideal weather in Mississippi and Arkansas, producers expect higher yields than last year.

Pima production is forecast at 808,500 bales, up 6 percent from last year. Pima harvested area is expected to total 293,000 acres, down 9 percent from 2006.

In the Mid-South, USDA projects an average cotton yield per acre of 1,083 pounds for Arkansas, up from last year's 1,045 pounds; 941 pounds for Missouri, down from last year's 953 pounds; 960 pounds for Mississippi, up from last year's 829 pounds; 869 pounds for Tennessee, down from last year's 945 pounds; and 946 pounds for Louisiana, unchanged from last year.

U.S. soybean production is forecast at 2.63 billion bushels, down 18 percent from last year's record high and down 14 percent from 2005. Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 41.5 bushels per acre, down 1.2 bushels from last year.

Yields are lower than those of 2006 throughout most of the Atlantic Coast, most of the Corn Belt, and the Tennessee Valley, while yields are expected to remain unchanged or increase across the Great Plains, Gulf Coast, and Arkansas. Area for harvest, at 63.3 million acres, remains unchanged from June but is down 15 percent from 2006.

USDA's first survey-based forecast of the 2007-08 U.S. rice crop is 190.4 million hundredweight, up slightly from last month's projection, but down 3.3 million hundredweight from 2006-07. Average yield is forecast at 6,984 pounds per acre, up 14 pounds per acre from last month.

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