USDA now forecasts U.S. farmers will harvest 13 billion bushels of corn this fall, with yields averaging 164 bushels per acre. The latest Crop Production report, released Oct. 9, reflects slight increases from last month’s predictions in yields and total production and an 8 percent larger harvest than last year.

The 164.2 bushel per acre average yield would be the highest on record and total production will be second only to the record set in 2007.  Yield forecasts remained unchanged or increased from last month across the Corn Belt, Great Plains, and OhioValley where warm, dry weather during much of September helped push the late-developing corn crop towards maturity.

Light frost was reported in parts of the northern tier of the Great Plains and Corn Belt in late September. However, temperatures were not considered low enough to terminate crop growth. Based on administrative information, acreage updates were made in several States and farmers now expect to harvest 79.3 million acres for grain, down 1 percent from the September forecast but 1 percent above 2008.

The state of Washington can boast of the highest average corn yield if forecasts hold up, with a projected 205 bushels per acre, although corn acreage in the state is relatively small. Among major corn states, Iowa projects an amazing 187 bushels per acre, with Illinois not far behind with 179 bushels.

Soybean production is forecast at a record high 3.25 billion bushels, up slightly from the September forecast and up 10 percent from last year. Based on October 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 42.4 bushels per acre, up 0.1 bushel from last month and up 2.7 bushels from 2008. If the forecast holds up, this will be the third highest yield on record. Compared with last month, yields are forecast higher or unchanged in all States except Michigan,Mississippi, Ohio, and New York. The largest decrease in yield from the September forecast is expected in Mississippi where persistent rain during the last two weeks of the month increased the potential impact of disease. 

Increases of 2 bushels are expected in Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Virginia.  If realized, the forecasted yield in Alabama, Georgia, and Nebraska will be a record high and the forecasted yield in Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania will tie the previous record high. Area for harvest in the U.S. is forecast at 76.6 million acres, down slightly from the previous estimate but up 3 percent from 2008.

The full report is available online.