February 20, 2004



US To Reap Record Corn, Soybeans Output in 2004


USDA on Thursday unveiled its forecast of a record 10.4 billion bushels of corn and a record 2.9 billion bushels of soybeans this year.


Chief Economist Keith Collins, in a speech opening USDA's annual agricultural outlook conference, said the highest market prices since 1998 would prompt American farmers to expand corn plantings by 2.2 percent, soybeans by 1 percent and cotton and rice by 8 percent.


"These acreages and yield trends result in record-high corn and soybean crops," Collins said.


Wheat sowings will drop by 2 percent, Collins said, due to dry weather that prevented winter wheat seeding in the Plains. The wheat crop would be 9 percent smaller, he said. That suggested a harvest of 2.127 billion bushels this year.


Collins' estimate of a 10.4 billion bushel corn crop was slightly larger than the 10.29 billion that USDA projected earlier this month. The soybean figure was about the same as the 2.915 billion bushels that USDA projected on Feb. 6.


Cotton output would be 18.3 billion bushels, about the same as the 18.2 million bales harvested in 2003.


Wheat growers harvested 2.337 billion bushels last year.

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