* Corn yield estimate down 4.7 pct from week ago
* Forecasted yield at 10-yr low; production at 6-yr low
* Drought eating away at crop prospects
* Soybeans beginning to feel the heat
(Adds details, analyst quotes, table listing analysts, bullet
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO, July 24 The U.S. corn production likely
dropped 5.2 percent in the past week to its lowest level in six
years and millions of U.S. corn acres may be abandoned due to
the expanding drought, according to analysts polled by Reuters
The survey of 11 analysts resulted in an average estimated
corn yield of 130.8 bushels per acre, the lowest in 10 years and
down 4.7 percent from a Reuters poll last week. That also is
below the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest estimate of
Corn production was expected at 11.45 billion bushels, down
from the previous Reuters poll average of 12.077 billion and
down almost 12 percent from the current USDA estimate.
The poll estimated the U.S. soybean yield at 38.6 bushels
per acre, down 1 percent from a week ago. Soybean production at
2.899 billion bushels also was down 1 percent from last week's
poll and 5 percent below USDA's forecast.
Relentless heat and drought in nearly all major
corn-producing states, including top producers Illinois and
Iowa, prompted the lowered production forecasts.
USDA's weekly crop progress report on Monday confirmed
expectations that the harsh weather was taking a toll.
"Monday's crop ratings showed losses on par with the damage
seen during the 1988 drought if these conditions persist," said
Bryce Knorr, senior editor for Farm Futures Magazine.
At spring planting, corn production had been expected to be
a record and near 15 billion bushels this year as U.S. farmers
got an early start to planting and sowed the most acreage since
the late '30s to capture profits from record corn prices.
"Weather so far has taken almost four billion bushels off
the corn crop, so a lot of demand must still be rationed," Knorr
U.S. corn condition ratings fell for the seventh straight
week, and the USDA's crop condition report also showed soybean
conditions falling to near levels last hit in the 1988 drought.
The USDA rated the corn 26 percent good to excellent as of
July 22, down 5 percentage points from a week earlier. It rated
soy at 31 percent good to excellent, the fourth weekly decline
and down from 34 percent last week.
Analysts also were beginning to slash their forecasts for
the harvested corn area this year due to more and more reports
of farmers giving up on gathering any crop at all.
"We are at 129.1 bushels per acre and with a one million
acre decrease in harvested acres, we have production at 11.342
billion bushels," said Rich Nelson, director of research for
The USDA's current forecast is for 88.9 million acres to be
"I'm two million acres below USDA on harvested acres of
corn," said Jerry Gidel, analyst for Rice Dairy LLC.
Some analysts dropped their estimates for the soybean
harvested area to below USDA's outlook of 75.3 million.
"We have corn harvested acres at 87 million, 1.9 million
below the government, and we took soybean harvested acres down 1
million," said Don Roose, president and analyst for U.S.
Chicago Board of Trade corn and soybean futures prices
soared to record highs of over $8 per bushel and over $17,
respectively, last Friday as the drought crept further into the
northwestern Midwest crop states of Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota
and the Dakotas.
A turn to wetter weather over the weekend brightened hopes
for a revival of some of the nation's corn and an even larger
portion of soybeans.
Much of the corn crop has been harmed beyond repair, but
there is still time for soybeans to perk up and turn in some
"Timely rains over the next five to seven days will help
each crop in Iowa and Minnesota. It's too late to help the corn
crop in Ohio and Indiana, but the soybeans will be helped by
rains," said Sterling Smith, analyst for Citigroup.
Yield Prod Yield Prod
Average Analyst Estimate 130.809 11.448 38.591 2.899
High Estimate 136.500 11.947 39.500 3.050
Low Estimate 121.500 10.800 36.500 2.700
USDA 2012 Projection 146.000 12.970 40.500 3.050
U.S. 2011 147.200 12.358 41.500 3.056
Last Week's Reuters poll 137.223 12.077 39.058 2.931
ABN Amro 129.000 11.350 39.000 2.925
Allendale Inc. 129.100 11.342 38.500 2.900
Citigroup 135.000 11.947 38.900 2.915
Farm Futures 121.500 10.800 36.500 2.700
Futures Intl. 136.200 11.820 39.100 2.950
Goldman Sachs 126.000 na 39.500 na
Hightower Report 130.000 11.360 38.000 3.050
McKeany-Flavell 130.000 11.204 38.500 2.888
Rice Dairy LLC 136.500 11.855 39.500 2.960
Traders Group Inc. 130.000 11.000 38.000 2.800
US Commodities 135.600 11.797 39.000 2.898
(Additional reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago. Editing by
Ciro Scotti and Bob Burgdorfer)