August 12, 2015 / 4:07 PM / 2 years ago

USDA sees bumper U.S. soy, corn crops despite spring floods

WASHINGTON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybean harvests were pegged above expectations this year as strong yields in areas west of the Mississippi River will make up for problems caused by excessive rains in eastern production states, the government said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Agriculture Department forecast the 2015/16 soybean harvest at 3.916 billion bushels, based on an average yield of 46.9 bushels per acre. Both figures were above the government's previous forecasts and topped the high end of the range of market estimates.

Record soybean yields were forecast in eight states, including Minnesota and Nebraska. Yields were seen falling in Illinois, the biggest soybean state by plantings, and Indiana due to the rains.

Corn production was seen at a 13.686 billion bushels, with average yield projected at 168.8 bushels per acre. The corn yield outlook topped the range of market estimates. The production view was near the high end of expectations.

Harvested soybean acres were seen at a record 83.549 million acres, but down from the USDA's previous outlook. The USDA left its projection for corn-harvested acres unchanged at 81.101 million.

Crop watchers have raised concerns for months about the flooding during the spring cutting into soybean seedings and limiting harvest potential in planted areas hit by the rains.

The weather concerns sparked a rally in soybean futures during June, with corn following along, but prices retreated from their highs as the weather for crop development improved during July.

The big crops will boost the supplies left of both commodities at the end of the marketing year.

Domestic soybean ending stocks for 2015/16 were seen at 470 million bushels, up 45 million bushels from the government's July estimate and above analysts' forecasts ranging from 210 million to 402 million bushels. The USDA also cut its soybean export projection by 50 million bushels.

The outlook was the USDA's first bump to soy ending stocks since it first issued its expectations for the 2015/16 marketing year in May. It had lowered its outlook for 2015/16 soy ending stocks in the previous two monthly reports.

For corn, the USDA projected 2015/16 domestic ending stocks at 1.713 billion bushels, up from 1.599 billion in July and above the high end of trade forecasts.

It also raised its wheat ending stocks outlook to 850 million bushels from 842 million, below the average of analysts' estimates. The government cut its export forecast while also lowering its winter wheat production view. (Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Paul Simao)

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