USDA sees slight decline in U.S. 2018 corn, soy productio

ARLINGTON, Va., (Reuters) – The U.S. corn and soybean
harvests for 2018 were forecast to come in below the levels
reached in 2017 but supplies should remain abundant, the U.S.
Agriculture Department said on Friday.

The United States is the world’s biggest corn producer and
exporter, and the No. 2 soybean exporter after Brazil.

U.S. corn production was seen falling 1 percent to 14.390
billion bushels, based on an average yield of 174.0 bushels per
acre (bpa). The USDA said its yield projection is “based on a

weather-adjusted trend assuming normal growing season weather.”

The U.S. corn yield hit an all-time high in 2017 at 176.6
bpa. The country has produced bumper crops in each of the last
five years, with the largest harvested in 2016, at 15.1 billion
bushels, aided by a jump in plantings.

The government projected corn ending stocks for the 2018/19
crop year beginning Sept. 1 at 2.272 billion bushels, down 3
percent from the prior marketing year.

Corn exports were seen falling to 1.9 billion bushels, down
150 million from 2017/18, reflecting stiff competition from
Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine, the USDA said.

The amount of corn used for ethanol is seen rising to a
record-high 5.650 billion bushels for 2018/19.

For soybeans, USDA estimated the crop at 4.320 billion
bushels, 2 percent lower than the record-large 2017 harvest. The
government put the soybean yield at 48.5 bpa, down 0.6 bushels
from a year earlier and down 3.5 bushels from the all-time high
of 52.0 bpa set in 2016.

U.S. soybean acreage has been expanding in recent years as
rising demand makes the oilseed more profitable to grow. The

USDA has forecast that U.S. farmers will plant the same area
with soybeans as with corn this year, which would be the first
time in 35 years that corn was not the top crop.

Soybean ending stocks for 2018/19 were seen falling by 70
million bushels, to 460 million bushels, well below the average
estimate in a Reuters poll of analysts for 564 million.

The USDA attributed the decline primarily to an increase in
exports. The USDA said U.S. soybean exports would rise by 200
million bushels, to 2.3 billion bushels in 2018/19, due to
robust global demand and a decline in the 2018 South American
soy harvest.

Wheat production should rise by nearly 6 percent to 1.839
billion bushels as total planted area for 2018 expands to 46.5
million acres, from 46.0 million a year earlier, despite a drop
in winter wheat seedings to a 109-year low.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Simon Webb and
Bernadette Baum)


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