By DAVID PITT
AP Business Writer
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Farmers will harvest nearly 9 percent fewer acres of corn this year than last year, in part because of Midwest flooding which has damaged a portion of the crop, the government reported Monday.
The result likely will be continued high corn prices, which likely will drive up some food prices.
The USDA said farmers expect to harvest 78.9 million acres, down 8.7 percent from the 86.5 million harvested last year.
The report indicates farmers planted nearly 7 percent fewer corn acres than last year.
Farmers planted 87.3 million acres of corn this year, down from last year's 93.6 million acres.
The acres planted is higher than farmers had anticipated in March, when they expected to plant 86 million acres in corn.
Chad Hart, an agriculture economist with Iowa State University says the report shows that farmers planted more corn than they had anticipated but some of it was washed away in the floods.
"What it means in terms of flooding impact on the area is, I hate to say it, that it was kind of a wash," Hart said. "Farmers were able to get in there and plant more corn but a lot of the surplus planted over March intentions was basically washed away by the floods."
Corn futures jumped from $6 a bushel in early June to $7.5475 for the July contract on Friday.
Planted soybean acres will increase 17 percent from last year to 74.5 million acres.
The planted soybean acres are expected to increase in all states and the planted area for soybeans is the third largest on record, the USDA said.
Nationally, farmers reported 79 percent of the soybean crop had been planted at the time of the survey last week, the lowest since 1996.
The report says farmers have changed planting intentions for crops already planted and changed intentions for acres not planted.
Farmers intend to harvest 90.4 percent of their planted acres of corn for grain, down from the estimate of 92.4 percent as indicated in the first two weeks of June.
Hart said land that had been intended for other crops or that may have recently come out of the conservation reserve program were likely planted in corn, resulting in the uptick from earlier expectations.
The USDA reinterviewed 1,200 farmers last week to get the most updated information reflecting the impact of Midwest flooding.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)