WASHINGTON — Farmers are expecting a record corn harvest this year, but it will probably mean lower prices.
The U.S. Agriculture Department is also forecasting new production records for soybeans and cotton.
The department predicted Wednesday that corn production will total 10 billion bushels, breaking the previous record of 9.48 billion set in 1992. The forecast was based on field surveys conducted Nov. 1.
The corn-growing season was ideal in most areas this year, contrasting with the flooding and drought that held the 1993 corn harvest to 6.34 billion bushels.
In fact, the latest production forecast was up 4%, or 408 million bushels, from the October estimate and 58% above the 1993 crop.
But the increase resulted in a lower price estimate for the crop: down 5 cents a bushel to between $1.85 and $2.25.
The department forecast a soybean crop of 2.52 billion bushels, breaking the previous record of 2.26 billion set in 1979.
While the forecast was 3% above the October estimate and 35% more than was harvested last year, foreign purchases drove the season average price forecast up about 20 cents. The November forecast ranged from $4.80 to $5.50 a bushel.
The report says corn yields are expected to average a record 138.4 bushels an acre, up 4.6 bushels from the October forecast and seven bushels above the 1992 record. Yields averaged 100.7 bushels an acre in 1993.
Soybean yields also are forecast at a record 41.5 bushels an acre, 1 bushel above Oct. 1 and 8.9 bushels above a year earlier.
The soybean production forecast is 65 million bushels more than the department's October projection.
The department also forecast the cotton harvest at 19.5 million bales, up 1% from the October forecast and 21% more than 1993. Yields are expected to average 695 pounds an acre, up 5 pounds from last month and 89 pounds from last year.