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Cool summer could lead to record harvest in U.S.

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 11:15 p.m. CDT

DES MOINES, Iowa – A mild summer across much of the nation’s heartland has provided optimum growing conditions for the nation’s corn and soybean crops. Pair that with high-yield seeds and other new farming technologies, and the U.S. is looking at busting records come harvest time.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has predicted a record soybean crop of 3.8 billion bushels. And the corn crop, it said in July, would be large but not bigger than last year’s record of 13.9 billion bushels. However, many market analysts and some farmers expect the USDA to revise expectations upward in a report based on field surveys that’s due out Tuesday.

“Conditions look just fantastic across most of the country,” Texas A&M University grain marketing economist Mark Welch said.

In a typical growing season, at least some corn-growing states would have experienced drought or other production problems. But the 18 states that grow 91 percent of the nation’s corn have experienced nearly ideal conditions this year, as adequate rain fell when plants emerged and cooler summer temperatures minimized heat stress.

That’s the case in Illinois, one of the nation’s top corn and soybean states.

“Illinois has largely been dealt to date pretty close to a royal flush on weather and I’m sure that the yields are going to be very high here,” said Scott Irwin, a University of Illinois professor of agricultural and consumer economics.

The expected large harvest has driven corn and soybean prices significantly lower, but it isn’t expected to make much of a short-time difference in consumer food prices.

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