U.S. corn stocks to triple from big crop, small exports

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The U.S. corn stockpile will more than triple following a record large harvest this fall as strong competition from Brazil and Argentina limits U.S. exports and ethanol production stays flat, the Agriculture Department said on Friday.

The USDA projected a corn crop of 14.53 billion bushels, up 35 percent from the drought-shortened crop of 2012, assuming normal weather and yields. Farm-gate prices for corn would tumble by 28 percent to $4.80 a bushel.

The record corn crop is 13.092 billion bushels in 2009. U.S. corn production has fallen for three years in a row. Ending stocks this marketing year would be the smallest in 17 years.

Exports of 1.5 billion bushels in 2013/14, a rebound from the 41-year low forecast for this marketing year, still would be the second lowest since 1993/94 "as the U.S. share of the world market struggles to recover," the USDA said.

Ethanol makers were forecast to use 4.675 billion bushels of corn to make the renewable fuel, up 175 million bushels, or 4 percent, from 2012/13. Ethanol use will be limited by falling demand for gasoline and a lack of a market for fuel containing higher ethanol blends than the standard 10 percent.

Lower corn prices will encourage livestock feeding but use will be constrained by tight supplies of feeder cattle.

"Lower beef production is more than offset by expected increases in poultry and pork output, raising corn feeding slightly for the year," said the USDA.

The USDA pegged ending stocks at 2.177 billion bushels, the first time since 2007/08 that they would top 2 billion bushels.

"A return to more normal spring weather is expected to reduce this year's planting opportunities for corn and leave more land available for soybeans," the USDA said, in projecting plantings of 96.5 million acres.

Some analysts say corn plantings will be as large as 99 million acres.

Following are the USDA's projections for production and use in the 2013/14 marketing year, with comparisons to USDA estimates for 2011/12 and 2012/13. Ending stocks for 2012/13 are the USDA February estimate; beginning stocks for 2013/14 are based on current conditions.



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