WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. corn production will be higher than expected as harvest yields came in at record levels despite some concerns about the crop throughout the growing season, government data showed on Thursday.
The U.S. Agriculture Department in its monthly supply and demand report said the bumper corn harvest will raise stockpiles of the yellow grain even as exports and usage from the feed sector rise from its previous estimates for the 2017/18 marketing year.
In its crop production report, USDA also trimmed its estimate of the soybean harvest from its October outlook. Despite the cut, soybean production was still expected to come in as the biggest ever.
USDA pegged the corn crop at 14.578 billion bushels, based on an average yield of 175.4 bushels per acre. That compares with its October production outlook of 14.280 billion bushels, based on an average yield of 171.8 bushels per acre.
Analysts had been expecting a corn production figure between 14.250 billion bushels and 14.459 billion bushels, based on estimates given in a Reuters survey. Analysts’ yield estimates ranged from 171.7 bushels per acre to 174.0 bushels per acre.
If realized, the government’s corn yield projection would top the previous record of 174.6 bushels per acre reached in 2016.
In Iowa and Illinois, the two largest production states for corn, USDA boosted its average yield by 6 bushels per acre from its October estimate.
For soybeans, USDA pegged the crop at 4.425 billion bushels, topping the average of analysts’ estimates but in line with forecasts that ranged from 4.375 billion bushels to 4.467 billion bushels.
USDA left its soybean yield projection at 49.5 bushels per acre, unchanged from October. Analysts, on average, had expected a soybean yield of 49.3 bushels per acre.
U.S ending stocks of corn were seen at 2.487 billion bushels, 147 million bushels higher than the October view. USDA raised both exports and usage from the feed and residual sector by 75 million bushels.
USDA pegged soybean ending stocks at 425 million bushels, down 5 million form October due to the cut to the production forecast.
For wheat, USDA lowered its ending stocks view by 25 million bushels to 935 million bushels. It raised its export outlook by 25 million bushels to 1.0 billion due to recent sales of hard red winter wheat to Iraq.
Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Andrea Ricci