Corn Crop to be Second Largest, Despite Floods

U.S. farmers will reap their second-largest corn crop, a mammoth 12.288 billion bushels, despite spring rains and floods that raised fears of shortages and skyrocketing prices, the government said on Tuesday.

In its first forecast of the fall harvest, the Agriculture Department estimated the soybean crop at 2.973 billion bushels, the fourth-largest on record; wheat at 2.462 billion bushels and cotton at 13.77 million bales weighing 480 lb (218 kg), smallest in a decade.

"Nearly ideal growing-season weather across much of the Corn Belt since late June has supported (corn) crop development and increased yield prospects," said USDA, pegging yields at 155 bushels an acre, the second highest ever. Traders expected a smaller crop, 11.98 billion bushels.

Soybean supplies will remain tight through fall 2009 because excessive rainfall will reduce yields in much of the Corn Belt and the U.S. Plains, said USDA. The U.S. stockpile will amount to slightly more than a two-week supply when the new crop is ready for harvest, the same level as this fall.

USDA slightly lowered its forecast of farm-gate wheat, corn and soybean prices because of larger crops worldwide.

Crop damage in Texas, the No 1 cotton state, contributed to the small U.S. crop. "Texas producers have abandoned 1.30 million of the 4.70 million acres planted due to adverse weather conditions throughout the state," said USDA.