August 10, 2017 / 4:04 PM / 12 days ago

USDA pegs U.S. corn, soybean production above market forecasts

WASHINGTON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - The 2017 U.S. corn and soybean harvests will be bigger than expected despite a slow start to planting and concerns that hot and dry conditions stressed the corn crop during critical periods of development, the government said on Thursday.

The U.S. Agriculture Department's forecasts for corn yield and production as well as soybean yield and production topped the high end of market forecasts, with the soybean outlooks estimated at record highs.

In its monthly crop production report, USDA pegged corn production at 14.153 billion bushels, based on an average yield of 169.5 bushels per acre. Those figures, if realized, would both be the third biggest ever. In July, USDA forecast a corn harvest of 14.255 billion bushels and a yield of 170.7 bushels per acre.

Analysts' forecasts for corn production ranged from 13.590 billion bushels to 14.070 billion bushels, with an average of 13.855 billion bushels, based on a Reuters poll. Yield forecasts ranged from 162.8 bushels per acre to 168.5 bushels per acre, with an average of 166.2 bushels per acre.

For soybeans, USDA said the crop would be 4.381 billion bushels, eclipsing the 2016 harvest that totaled 4.307 billion bushels. Soybean yields were seen at 49.4 bushels per acre, up from the USDA's July projection of 48.0 bushels per acre.

Analysts' forecasts for soybean production ranged from 4.165 billion bushels to 4.307 billion bushels, with yield outlooks between 46.9 bushels per acre and 48.0 bushels per acre. The averages were 4.212 billion bushels and 47.5 bushels per acre.

The government raised its 2017/18 soybean ending stocks view to 475 million bushels to reflect the record crop projections, slightly above the high end of analysts' forecasts. It cut its 2016/17 soybean ending stocks view to 370 million bushels, largely due to a bump of 50 million bushels to the export outlook.

Corn ending stocks for 2017/18 were trimmed to 2.273 billion bushels, near the high end of market forecasts.

USDA left its harvested acres projections unchanged, at 88.731 million for soybeans and 83.496 million for corn.

The government's all-wheat harvest outlook of 1.739 billion bushels was down from its July outlook but bigger than the average of analysts estimates.

For spring wheat other than durum, USDA pegged production at 402 million bushels, down 21 million bushels from July as a severe drought crippled development across the northern U.S. Plains. Analysts, on average, had estimated other spring wheat production at 393 million bushels.

Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Paul Simao

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