Okay, you've all heard about the bin-busting corn crop. But how big is it really?

According to USDA, corn yields are currently at a record 160.2 bushels per acre, pushing production to a record 11.7 billion bushels. That exceeds the old record set in 2003 by 16 percent. Note that 2003's bushels per acre came in at 142.2 bushels.

Since beginning stocks and imports are unchanged for this month, the projected total supply is 12.7 billion bushels, up from 2003/2004’s 11.2 billion.

Tremendous growing conditions across corn country provided the setting that lead to the abundant harvest. There's little question that plant breeding and constantly improving production practices are paying off as well. It's worth noting that this year's crop produced a record number of ears per acre, up 3 percent from the previous record– again set in 2003.

Domestic feed grain use is up fractionally from last month, USDA reports, but total use is down because of reduced exports. This has resulted in higher stocks, which in turn has tempered corn prices. World trade projections are down. For now, projections look for U.S. corn exports to be down 0.5 million tons.

Overall, 2004/2005 U.S. feed grain production is forecast at a record 318 million metric tons, up from 275.5 million in 2003/2004, notes USDA officials. There has been no change in beginning stocks or imports, so total supply increased the same amount as production.

Total 2004/2005 feed grain use is projected at 297.8 million tons, up from 280 million in 2003/2004.

Granted there's lots of uses for corn today, and there's lots of interest in expanding ethanol production. But pork producers should benefit from reasonably priced– dare I say cheap corn.

To take a look at USDA's entire report and graphics, go to: http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/erssor/field/fds-bb/2004/fds04jf.pdf