The Agriculture Department put corn production at 9.24 billion bushels, down less than 1 percent from last month and 7 percent from 2000. Based on conditions as of Sept. 1, yields are expected to average 133.5 bushels per acre, down 0.4 bushel from August. If realized, this would be the lowest yield and production since 1997.

Forecast yields are down in the northwest Corn Belt due to early-August hot, dry weather during critical reproductive and grain-filling stages. Yield prospects improved in Indiana, Nebraska, and Ohio due to timely rainfall and more seasonal temperatures in the latter part of August.

In Michigan and the Northeast, extremely dry weather during the entire month greatly diminished yield prospects. Timely and plentiful rainfall in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern states provided ideal growing conditions for corn fields and farmers are harvesting better than expected yields. Yield prospects in the southern Great Plains are mixed as yield expectations increased where rain fell, but declined where it didn’t rain.

Soybean production is forecast at a record high 2.83 billion bushels, down 1 percent from August 1, but 2 percent above 2000. Based on Sept. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 38.2 bushels per acre, down 0.5 bushel from last month but 0.1 bushel above 2000.

Forecast yields are down in Michigan, the northern and central Great Plains, and the Northeast due to moisture shortages. Yield prospects improved in the Ohio Valley, lower Mississippi Valley, and Texas due to above normal rainfall. Acreage for harvest is estimated at a record 74.1 million acres, unchanged from last month but up 2 percent from 2000.

Rice production is projected at a record 206.3 million hundredweight, 4 percent above last month and 8 percent above last year. Harvested area is estimated at 3.290 million acres, 2 percent above last month and 8 percent above 2000. U.S. average yield is estimated at 6,272 pounds per acre, up 2 percent from last month, but down slightly from last year’s record.

Long-grain production is estimated at a record 159.7 million hundredweight, 4 percent above last month and up 24 percent from last year. Combined medium- and short-grain production is estimated at 46.7 million hundredweight, up 3 percent from last month but 25 percent below last year.

The agency forecast all wheat production at 1.99 billion bushels, up slightly from the August forecast but 10 percent below 2000. The U.S. yield is forecast at 40.4 bushels per acre. This is up 0.2 bushels from last month.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com.