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USDA projects SD corn crop up 44 percent over 2012, drops soy yield

Corn grows in a field east of Bruce, S.D., in August. The USDA projects a corn yield up 44 percent over 2012. (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers)

By Dirk Lammers

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has raised its yield forecast for South Dakota's corn crop while dropping its soybean yield estimate.

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Both crops got off to a late start this spring as many farmers were forced to delay planting because of the cool, dry weather.

But Thursday's report from the department's National Agricultural Statistics Service shows that South Dakota's soybeans are lagging further behind than corn.

The average yield for the state's corn crop is forecast at 145 bushels per acre, up 7 bushels from the August estimate and the second highest of record. The state's corn crop is forecast at a record high 769 million bushels, up 44 percent from last year, according to the USDA.

Corn at the dough stage is 98 percent, ahead of the five-year average of 94 percent, and plants reaching the dented stage hit 67 percent, just behind the 70 percent five-year average.

But just 5 percent of plants have reached the mature stage, well behind last year's 41 percent and the 13 percent five-year average.

The state's soybean yield is forecast at 35 bushels per acre, down a bushel from the August forecast but up 5 bushels from last year. South Dakota soybean farmers are expected to produce 163 million bushels in 2013, down 3 percent from the August forecast but still the second highest of record.

By this time last year, three-quarters of South Dakota's soybean crop had dropped its leaves. This year, just 28 percent had dropped leaves as of Monday, well behind the five-year average of 41 percent.

Commodity Weather Group in a recent bulletin said a pattern of dry weather over the past weeks has taken a toll on the pod set and fill for soybeans in nearly half of the Midwest soybean belt.

The firm, which tracks weather relevant to the agriculture and energy industries, had already lowered its estimate to 34.9 bushel in its Aug. 30 bulletin.