January 12, 2018 / 5:35 PM / 11 days ago

UPDATE 1-USDA raises U.S. corn harvest; wheat acreage forecast tops expectations

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WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday boosted its estimate of domestic corn production due to a record yield that stemmed from bumper harvests in major growing states such as Illinois as well as some of the smaller production areas.

USDA also trimmed its view of soybean production, although the 2017 crop remained at record levels due to an increase in harvested acres.

The government’s estimate of winter wheat plantings was 32.608 million acres, the lowest since 1909 but above a range of market forecasts.

Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures, which had been trading slightly higher before the report was released, sagged 3 percent as traders digested the acreage figures.

“All you have to do is look at prices to know wheat’s the story today,” said Jim Gerlach, president of Indiana-based grain broker A/C Trading. “Winter wheat acres came in higher than the average trade guess.”

Soybean futures that hit a four-month low earlier in the session rebounded into positive territory.

The massive corn and soybean harvests flooded country elevators and strained storage bins. USDA said that both corn and soybean stocks as of Dec. 1 were the highest on record.

The increased corn production also caused USDA to boost its 2017/18 ending stocks view for the yellow grain. Soybean ending stocks were raised too, largely due to a cut in the export forecast for the oilseed.

USDA pegged the corn harvest at 14.604 billion bushels, up from its previous forecast of 14.578 billion. Average corn yields were 176.6 bushels per acre.

Soybean production was pegged at 4.392 billion bushels, down from the USDA’s last estimate of 4.425 billion bushels. The average yield was cut to 49.1 bushels per acre from 49.5 bushels per acre.

USDA said soybean harvested acreage was 89.522 million and corn harvested acreage was 82.703 million.

Soybean stocks as of Dec. 1 stood at 3.157 billion bushels. Corn stocks as of Dec. 1 were 12.516 billion bushels. Wheat stocks as of Dec. 1 fell to 1.874 billion.

U.S. ending stocks of corn for the 2017/18 marketing year were seen at 2.477 billion bushels. USDA boosted the domestic soybean ending stocks forecast to 470 million.

It cut the U.S. soy export outlook by 65 million bushels amid rising demand for shipments from top competitor Brazil. It raised its estimate of the Brazil crop to 110 million tonnes and the export outlook to 67 million tonnes.

Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Richard Chang

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