U.S. corn output projected at 12.43 billion bushels, down from September estimate of 12.497 billion bushels, driven by estimated drop in harvested acres, USDA says

WASHINGTON , October 12, 2011 (press release) – The Agriculture Department’s October crop report released today shows a reduction in the U.S. corn crop compared to the September report, mainly because of a drop in the estimate for harvested acres.

USDA estimates farmers will produce 12.433 billion bushels of corn this year, down from 12.497 billion bushels in the September estimate.

In today’s report, USDA estimates corn farmers will harvest 83.9 million acres, a drop of 452,000 acres from the September estimate. Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said USDA’s October harvested acreage number is important because it is the first that is based on actual certified acreage by USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

“The Farm Service Agency has been releasing certified acreage data monthly since August, but this information was not included in previous WASDE [World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates] reports because the data were not complete,” Davis explained. “By looking at the early released data, many analysts have predicted that the planted and harvested acreage would decline by as much as 500,000 acres.”

Davis said the drop in harvested corn acreage is not surprising because of the extreme weather conditions farmers experienced this year.

“Flooding this spring in parts of the eastern Corn Belt prevented farmers from planting and harvesting all of the acreage they intended,” he said.

The October WASDE showed an increase in beginning stocks by 208 million bushels reflecting the larger stocks from the Sept. 30 USDA Grain Stocks report. “The increase in stocks more than off-set the decline in production due to the reduced acreage. The only change in demand was for exports which declined by 50 million bushels from the September estimate,” Davis said.

Davis said the corn stocks situation showed a slight improvement in the October report, compared to the September estimate. USDA now estimates U.S. corn supplies for the 2011/2012 marketing year at 866 million bushels, compared to 672 million bushels in the September estimate. Still, Davis said, the corn supply situation is still tight and stocks remain at the lowest level since the mid 1990s.

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