USDA Sees Record Corn Crop, But Downturn in Soybeans and Wheat Acres

February 18, 2010 06:00 PM

Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy & Washington Editor

USDA sees a return to trend yields on corn and soybeans for 2010 while wheat yields are forecast to decline as there are fewer acres planted to higher-yielding soft red winter wheat, according to commodity outlooks delivered by USDA analysts at the Outlook Forum.

CORN: Total corn supplies are put at 14.894 billion bu. on a crop of 13.160 billion bu. with a national average yield of 160.9 bu. per acre. Harvested acres are put at 81.8 million, as USDA expects 7.2 million acres will be taken for silage or abandoned, slightly higher than 2009.

Corn use: Total use is seen up 125 million bu. for 2010-11, with corn feed and residual use seen down 4% at 5.350 billion bushels "on lower expected residual use and increased feeding of distillers grains." Food, seed and industrial use is seen at 5.790 billion bu., up 225 million bu. from 2009-10. Corn for ethanol use is projected at 4.5 billion bu., accounting for 34% of total corn use.

Corn exports are forecast at 2.1 billion bu., on a rebound in livestock production but there is increased competition from feed wheat.

Corn carryover for 2010-11 is seen at 1.654 billion bu. with a season-average price of $3.60 per bushel.

SOYBEANS. Increased corn and cotton planting and lower double-crop acreage combined with lower prices and lower fertilizer costs are expected to trim soybean acreage to 77 million and harvested acres are put at 76 million. USDA sees yields at 42.9 bu. per acre, down from last year's record and a return to trend yields. That is expected to result in production of 3.260 billion bushels.

Use: Domestic use is seen at 1.822 billion bu., down from 2009-10, as crush slows amid expectations for less U.S. meal exports and soyoil used for food consumption is also seen declining. That would mark the sixth consecutive year of declines in soyoil food use. USDA sees soybean exports slipping to 1.325 billion bu. as competition heats up on the global market from big South American supplies.

Soybean ending stocks at 330 million bu. would be the largest since 2006-07 and are expected to result in soybean prices averaging $8.80 per bushel.

WHEAT: Production will slide to 1.945 billion bu. as harvested area is projected at 45.7 million acres and the national average yield is expected at 42.6 bu. per acre. USDA says the decline is reflecting "reduced area in higher-yielding soft red winter wheat states."

Use: Domestic use is forecast up 64 million bu., reaching 1.246 billion bu on an uptick in feed and residual and food, seed and industrial use. Exports are seen rising slightly to 850 million bu., and carryover is put at 940 million bu. for 2010-11. The season average price forecast is $4.90 per bushel.

COTTON Increased prices for cotton are expected to bring the biggest year-over-year cotton acreage increase since 1995, pushing plantings to 10.5 million acres in 2010. With harvested area at 9.3 million and an average yield of 825 lbs., per acre, USDA sees U.S. cotton production of 16.0 million bales.

Use: Domestic mill use is seen stable at 3.4 million bales despite expectations that U.S. consumer use of cotton will rise. Exports are forecast up 5% at 12.6 million bales as U.S. cotton should see extra demand as cotton supplies are lower outside of China. USDA sees cotton carryover for 2010-11 at 3.4 million bales with an average farm price of 64 cents per pound.

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