Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says with normal yields the corn crop could be about 10.1 billion bushels this year, which is slightly less than the record crop of 1994.

“That’s a major recovery from last year’s short crop- about 1 billion bushels more. We raised just 9 billion bushels last year,” says Hurt. “Last year’s average yield was 130 bushels per acre and this year USDA is starting with a projection of almost 140 bushels per acre.”

Hurt says the United States could have record a crop with slightly better weather than anticipated. USDA released its first set of crop estimates for corn and soybeans, May 12.

Hurt warned that corn prices could reach their spring highs in May and early June before slipping in late June and July. Should expectations for a near-record crop remain intact, prices could drop sharply by late summer with cash prices at harvest for new-crop corn at $1.90-$2.00 per bushel.

Projected soybean production was nearly 2.9 billion bushels, up 125 million bushels from 2002, If realized, it would represent the second largest U.S. soybean crop on record.

Soybean markets could be in for a wild ride, says Hurt. Numerous factors could exert pressure on prices, including an ever-shrinking inventory of old-crop soybeans, the size of the 2003 U.S. crop and fierce competition from growers in South America and China.

Hurt expects soybeans prices at harvest to range from $4.80-$5.00 per bushel. Farmers should keep a keen eye on markets in the weeks ahead and be prepared to act, says Hurt.

USDA estimates were based on data collected prior to a series of violent storms that ripped the Midwest and South recently.