The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting production declines this year for corn and soybeans, the nation’s two most valuable crops, while the all-wheat harvest is expected to jump by 5 percent.

The forecasts were contained in the May edition of USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, known simply as the WASDE, which was released Tuesday at the department’s headquarters in Washington. USDA said the report presents its initial assessment of U.S. and world crop supply and demand prospects and U.S. prices for 2018/19. Also presented are the first calendar-year 2019 projections of U.S. livestock, poultry, and dairy products.

For corn, the department projects a crop of 14.04 billion bushels for the marketing year that begins Sept. 1, down almost 600 million bushels from the previous harvest, on lower projected yields and harvested acreage. A crop of that size would be more than a billion bushels below the record 15.148-billion-bushel crop of the 2016-2017 crop year. Total corn use is expected to decline modestly from a year ago on reductions in domestic use and exports. Corn used to make ethanol, however, is projected to rise by 50 million bushels to 5.625 billion bushels – or 40 percent of the total crop – “reflecting expectations of gasoline consumption growth.” Farm-gate prices are seen averaging $3.80 a bushel, a 40-cent increase from the previous year’s average.

While the projected national average yield of 174 bushels per acre is lower than last year, “it would be the third highest yield on record,” the National Corn Growers Association said on its website.

According to the report, reduced corn exports out of Argentina and Brazil during 2017/18 (local marketing years beginning March 2018) are expected to boost U.S. exports during the first half of 2018/19. However, a nearly 265-million-bushel increase in the combined corn exports for Ukraine and Russia in 2018/19 will likely increase competition for the United States, reducing the forecast U.S. share of global corn trade from a year ago.

For soybeans, the department projects a crop of 4.28 billion bushels, down 112 million from last year’s record on lower harvested area and trend yields.  The 2018/19 U.S. season-average soybean price range is forecast at $8.75 to $11.25 per bushel compared with $9.35 per bushel in 2017/18. Global soybean production is forecast to rise 17.8 million tons to 354.5 million, mostly due to recovery from drought in Argentina, where the crop is projected to rise by 17 million tons to 56 million.

The total U.S. wheat crop for the 2018-2019 marketing year is estimated at 1.821 billion bushels, up 5 percent from the prior year, due to greater harvested area and slightly higher yield. The all wheat yield is projected at 46.8 bushels per acre, up slightly from 2017/18. Winter wheat yields are below average in the drought-affected states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, the report shows. Combined spring wheat and durum production for 2018/19 is projected to increase 34 percent from the previous year’s low, which is due to both increased area and yield.

USDA included a caution in its report that its projections are “highly tentative” due to spring planting being still underway in the Northern Hemisphere and being several months away in the Southern Hemisphere.

Some other highlights from the report:

  • RICE: All-rice production is projected at 203.2 million hundredweight (cwt), up 14 percent from the previous year, primarily on a larger than expected long-grain crop. Long-grain exports are projected up 4 percent to 72 million cwt on improved price competitiveness with increased exportable supplies. Medium- and short-grain exports are projected 7 percent higher to 29 million cwt on expanding exports to the Mediterranean region with reduced Egyptian competition.
  • COTTON: Cotton growers are expected to produce 19.5 million bales, each weighing about 480 pounds. That’s down from 20.92 million bales from last year, partly on expectations of rising levels of abandonment due to reduced rainfall in the Southwest.
  • LIVESTOCK: Beef production is forecast at 27.8 billion pounds for 2019, up 500 million pounds from the current year, on higher slaughter and carcass weights. Pork output for next year is also seen rising, to 27.6 billion pounds, up about 800 million pounds, as expected growth in farrowings and pigs per litter will support larger pig crops. Hog weights are also expected to increase.
  • POULTRY:  Broiler production for 2019 is expected to surpass 2018 as the industry responds to favorable broiler prices. Turkey production is forecast to slowly increase as prices move above year-earlier levels beginning in late 2018. Egg production is seen higher as the sector continues to respond to favorable prices during much of 2018.
  • DAIRY: Milk production for 2019 is forecast higher on gradual recovery in milk per cow. Cow numbers are expected to remain near 2018 levels. Commercial exports on both a fat and skim-solids basis are forecast higher than the previous year on robust global demand,

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