(New throughout, updates prices, adds details and analyst comment)
By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO, Sept 28 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybean supplies were bigger than expected despite record usage during the summer, the U.S. government said on Friday.
Weak prices for corn and soybeans, stemming from concerns about exports, stoked domestic demand from crushers and processors eager to run their plants as much as possible amid strong profit margins.
But the usage rates — 3.164 billion bushels of corn and 781 million bushels during the quarter that ended Sept. 1 — failed to dent the massive stockpiles ahead of what is expected to be a bumper harvest for both crops.
“This report is the worst thing that can happen to the American farmer,” said Bob Utterback, president of Utterback Marketing. “We’ve got a lot of inventory in the bin, and they haven’t got it sold.”
Soybean stocks as of Sept. 1 were at an 11-year high and corn stocks were the second biggest of the last 30 years.
Chicago Board of Trade corn and soybean futures, which had been trading close to unchanged before the data was released, dropped into negative territory and hit session lows.
In its quarterly stocks report, the U.S. Agriculture Department said that soybean stocks as of Sept. 1 stood at 438.1 million bushels, the biggest in 11 years. The corn stockpile totaled 2.140 billion bushels, down 7 percent from a year earlier.
Wheat stocks were 2.379 billion bushels compared to 2.253 billion bushels a year ago.
Analysts had expected the report to show soybean stocks of 401 million bushels, corn stocks of 2.010 billion bushels and wheat stocks of 2.343 billion bushels, according to the average of estimates given in a Reuters poll.
USDA also raised its estimate of the soybean crop harvested last fall, to 4.411 billion bushels from 4.392 billion bushels, surprising analysts.
“We’re just piling more beans on top of more beans,” said Ted Seifried chief agriculture market strategist for brokerage Zaner Group in Chicago.
In a separate report, USDA boosted its estimate of the 2017/18 U.S. wheat crop by 7 million bushels to 1.884 billion bushels, due to increases in spring wheat production.
Analysts, on average, had expected the government’s wheat harvest estimate to fall to 1.872 billion bushels. (Additional reporting by P.J. Huffstutter ; Editing by Andrea Ricci and David Gregorio)