New production and yield estimates for Minnesota's major crops show declines from last year's record harvests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday.

The USDA projected Minnesota's corn production at 1.22 billion bushels, down 5 percent from last year. The average corn yield is forecast at 160 bushels per acre, down 17 bushels from last year. Both production and yields set state records in 2010.

Soybean production was forecast at 280 million bushels, down 15 percent from a record 2010, partly because farmers shifted acres from soybeans to corn to take advantage of better prices. Soybean average yields are projected at 40 bushels per acre, down five bushels from last year.

Last year's growing weather was just about perfect across Minnesota. But this growing season got off to a cold, wet start that delayed planting. The weather turned dry in late summer, followed by an early frost in some areas.

Minnesota's sugarbeet production forecast is 9 million tons, down 23 percent from last year, with average yields projected at 19.5 tons per acre, down 7.1 tons from last year's record high of 26.6 tons per acre. The state's fall potato production is forecast at 15.9 million hundredweight, down from 17 million hundredweight last year, with average yields of 345 hundredweight per acre, down 60 from 2010.

The November estimates are down slightly from the USDA's October forecasts.

Nationally, the USDA slightly reduced its estimate for next year's corn supply, a move that could keep food prices high. U.S. corn production is forecast at 12.3 billion bushels, down 1 percent from last year, which still would be the fourth highest total on record.

National average corn yields are projected at 146.7 bushels per acre, down 6.1 bushels from last year, which would make it the lowest average yield since 2003. National soybean production is forecast at 3.05 billion bushels, down 9 percent from 2010, with yields averaging 41.3 bushels per acre, down 2.2 bushels from last year.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.