By Jeff Wilson and Brian Chappatta
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its corn crop estimate by 4.1 percent, reduced the soybean forecast by 5.2 percent and said spring wheat production will be 5.2 percent below what it predicted in July.
In Minnesota, the USDA said this year’s crops also will be smaller than 2010’s record harvests, after a late spring and a soggy summer. Corn yields are projected at 166 bushels an acre statewide, down 11 bushels from last year. Soybean yields are forecast at 40 bushels an acre, down five bushels from last year. Spring wheat yields are projected at 51 bushels, down four bushels from last year.
The shrinking supply of grain will further pressure prices. Already, corn prices have jumped 74 percent in the past year, leaving grain users like livestock producers, ethanol producers and food manufacturers eager for an abundant harvest.
"We needed a perfect growing season, and this was far from it," said Jason Britt, president of brokerage Central States Commodities Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. "From spring flooding to late planting to a hot summer, a combination of things has been thrown at this crop."
Corn futures for December delivery gained 25.5 cents, or 3.7 percent, to close at $7.14 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Parts of the Midwest, the main growing region, were the hottest last month since 1955.
"Ears did not pollinate well in major parts of fields across the Midwest," Iowa State University agronomists said this week in a report.
Corn production will total 12.9 billion bushels, compared with 13.47 billion projected in July, the USDA said in its first survey-based estimate for the crop.
The soybean harvest will total 3.05 billion bushels, down from last month’s forecast of 3.22 billion, the USDA said. The United States is the world’s largest grower.
"If soybeans don’t get rain across the next week, the hot weather next week will reduce the yield further," said Mark Schultz, the chief analyst for Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis. "Supplies are going to be tight this year, and South America cannot have a production problem," once planting begins in September, he said.
Soybeans for November delivery rose 30.25 cents, or 2.3 percent, to settle at $13.3175 a bushel in Chicago, the biggest jump since May 18.
In spring wheat, the USDA officially trimmed the number of planted acres from its June 30 report, following serious flooding in the northern plains. The USDA cut 500,000 planted acres from Montana and 450,000 acres from North Dakota.
Spring wheat production may total 522 million bushels, down from 550.7 million estimated in July, the USDA said.
In Minneapolis, spring wheat prices rose about 25 cents a bushel, closing at $8.62 Thursday.