U.S. farmers produced the largest corn and soybean crops on record in 2009, according to the Crop Production 2009 Summary released Tuesday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Corn production is 13.2 billion bushels, 1 percent above the previous record of 13 billion bushels set in 2007, and 9 percent higher than 2008. Corn yields reached an all-time high in 2009 at 165.2 bushels per acre, eclipsing the previous record of 160.3 bushels per acre set in 2004. Planted area, at 86.5 million acres, is the second highest since 1949, behind 2007’s 93.5 million acres.

The unexpectedly large crop sent corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade plunging, with the March contract tumbling 30 cents, the maximum daily trading limit, to $3.92 ½ a bushel. Further corn price declines would bring welcome relief for pork producers.

“As corn gets cheaper, it costs less to feed pigs to market weight,” said Bob Short, senior livestock analyst in Chicago with broker PFG Best. “No one’s made any money raising hogs in the past 28 months.”

Livestock feeder profits will return “if corn goes down and stays down,” Short said. “There’s no guarantee these guys will get back into the black. But at least it gives them hope they haven’t seen in the past couple years.”

Futures traders continue to expect high corn prices throughout the year. Corn for December delivery traded at $4.17 ½ a bushel at midday today on the CBOT, down the 30-cent limit but still up more than 30 cents over the past three months.

The 2009 soybean crop broke records for planted and harvested area as well as for yield and production. Soybean production totaled 3.36 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2008 and up 5 percent from the previous record set in 2006. The average yield per acre is 44 bushels, up .9 bushels from the previous record set in 2005. Farmers nationwide planted a total of 77.5 million soybean acres and harvested 76.4 million acres in 2009, both up 2 percent from the previous record set last year.

Grain sorghum production, at 383 million bushels, is down 19 percent from 2008. Sorghum yields, at 69.4 bushels per acre, are down 4.4 bushels from last year. Planted area totaled 6.63 million acres, the third lowest on record, while harvested area is 5.52 million acres, down 24 percent from 2008.

The full Crop Production 2009 Summary is available online.

Source: USDA