In its report on crop production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reiterated its expectation that the 2008 corn crop now being harvested will be the second largest ever, with the second-highest yield in history. The National Corn Growers Association welcomed this news as continued evidence of the importance of biotechnology and the resilience of the American farmer.

"Corn growers have had quite a challenging year and have responded with hard work and good planning to make sure our crop remains on target," said NCGA President Bob Dickey, a grower from Laurel, Neb. "Thanks to our farming practices and good biotechnology for hardier seed, we've made enormous progress in meeting all needs for food, feed, fiber, and fuel."

The USDA estimated that the 2008 harvest will bring in 12.020 bushels of corn from 78.2 million harvested acres, for a yield of 153.8 bushels per acre. Of the total corn supply for 2008, 13.659 acres, 39 percent will go toward feed and residual (5.3 billion bushels), 29 percent for ethanol and co-products such as distillers grains (4 billion bushels), and 10 percent for food, seed and other domestic use (1.335 billion bushels). Ethanol production will return approximately 1 billion bushels of corn back into the system for livestock feed, Dickey said. Approximately 14 percent will be exported (1.9 billion bushels), and the marketing year will end with 8 percent (1.124 billion bushels) in ending stocks for the following year.

The average annual price of corn has dropped from $4.75 per bushel to $4.40 per bushel. In its July estimate, the USDA had projected that corn would average $6 for the season as corn futures neared $8. Corn futures now are trading below $4 per bushel in some areas of the country, Dickey noted.

"As expected, many speculators have pulled out of the commodity market, bringing the price of corn down by about 50 percent from the year's high," Dickey said. "However, growers remain greatly concerned about the high cost of inputs such as fertilizer and other operational factors, such as land rent."