USDA Predicts Long-Term Corn Crop Expansion

USDA's baseline report includes the projection that ethanol will drive years of rapid corn expansion.

In its annual long-term baseline report released Wednesday, USDA says ethanol will drive years of rapid expansion in the U.S. corn crop.

By the 2007-08 marketing year, USDA predicts corn production to rise to 12.065 billion bushels, with continued increases for the next decade. In 2006, farmers produced 10.5 billion bushels of corn, with 2.15 billion of those going to the ethanol industry, according to USDA's February supply and demand report.

The strongest growth in U.S. corn and corn-based ethanol would occur within the next four years, USDA says, with the crop expected to surpass 14 billion bushels in 2016. Demand for production of 12 billion gallons of ethanol will demand 4.3 billion bushels of that crop, the report predicts.

The report also sees a decrease in soybean production in favor of corn acres. Farmers will only produce 2.9 billion bushels of soybeans in the 2007-08 marketing year, down from 3.188 billion in 2006, the reports says. Production would climb back to 3.085 billion bushels by 2016, USDA says.

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