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Drought Expected To Trim Crops

September 10, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Although it missed most of the nation’s heartland, this summer’s drought damaged enough crops to cause modest increases in the prices farmers will get for their corn and sobyeans, the government said today.

Based on its latest survey of crop conditions, the Agriculture Department predicted that farmers would harvest 9.4 billion bushels of corn this year, 2 percent less than USDA expected a month ago, and 4 percent under last year’s production.

The projected soybean harvest is down 3 percent from last month’s prediction but up 1 percent from last year.

USDA said it expected soybean prices to rise 30 cents a bushel and corn prices to increase 5 cents. But farmers would still be making far less than they did two years ago, when a worldwide glut of grain, combined with the Asian financial crisis, sent prices tumbling.

Meanwhile, wheat prices are expected to drop another 20 cents a bushel even though U.S. farmers cut production and turned to more profitable crops this year. Big wheat crops in Canada and Argentina will offset the drop in U.S. production, USDA said.

The drought did the most damage in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and other eastern states.

In Pennsylvania, farmers are expected to harvest just 72 bushels of corn to the acre this year, down from the 111 bushels they got in 1998 and well below the average yield nationally this year of 134 bushels per acre. Yields in Ohio are expected to be drop from 141 to 125 bushels this year.

By comparison, corn yields in Iowa, which has had plenty of rain, are expected to soar to 151 bushels, up from 145 last year.

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