USDA forecasts huge soybean, corn harvests

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Record harvests are being forecast for corn and soybean farmers, and now the focus turns to bringing the giant crop in
from the field.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service released its latest crop report Friday, forecasting
the second-largest corn harvest on record and a new record for soybeans.

Neither comes as a surprise, said Lance Honig,
chief of the crops branch for the Washington-based NASS, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture.

think the expectation was there," he said. "If we look at what the industry may have been expecting, corn seems
to be right in line with what most people thought."

Corn production is estimated at 13 billion bushels, up 8 percent
from 2008. If that holds up, it will be the second-highest production behind 2007, when 13.04 billion bushels were harvest.

— or amount harvested per acre — are forecast to average a record 164.2 bushels per acre, up more than 10 bushels
from 2008.

A record 3.25 billion bushels is forecast for soybeans, up 10 percent from 2008. Yields are expected to average
42.4 bushels per acre, the third-highest on record.

Even with forecasts for record soybean production, Honig said it
might be lower than some expected.

"Some people I think thought it might be little higher," he said.

corn crop grew slowly due to cool, wet conditions through much of the spring, raising concerns it might not mature before
a killing frost. But in most areas, the crop has matured enough that it won’t be hurt by a hard freeze, Honig said.

exception is Illinois, where planting was delayed by a rainy spring.

On his farm near New Berlin in central Illinois,
John Olsson isn’t sure what kind of yields he’ll get from his 650 acres apiece of corn and soybeans. Like many of the region’s
farmers, Olsson is mired in a waiting game, hoping a soggy fall that has mucked his fields and put his harvesting several
weeks behind schedule will give way to drier conditions.

He’s only managed to reap 20 acres of his soybeans and 30 acres
of corn, far behind most years when he’d be half done with both harvests.

"You just have to roll along with it,"
Olsson said. "I suppose there’s probably some people losing sleep over it. But if you worry about it too much you’re
probably not going to stay in the business too long. You just have to accept it as part of the risks of farming, make the
best of it and go from there."

Doug Kleckner, a farmer near St. Ansgar in northern Iowa, said he’s also way behind
on harvesting.

"Usually by this time I’m about one-third done with beans and well into the corn," he said.
"I haven’t started beans or corn. I haven’t rolled a wheel."

The NASS forecast also called for decreased yields
for sorghum, with 363.7 million bushels and 64 bushels per acre, down from 472.3 million bushels and 65.5 bushels per acre
in 2008. Alfalfa and Alfalfa mixtures for hay are forecast to increase to 71.9 million tons and 3.4 tons per acre, up from
69.6 million tons and 3.3 tons per acre in 2008.

Other hay is forecast at 80.8 million tons and 2.06 tons per acre,
an increase from 76 million tons and 1.95 tons per acre in 2008.

Rice production is forecast at 220.6 million hundredweight
and 7,115 pounds per acre, up from 203.7 million hundredweight and 7,051 pounds per acre last year.

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