Though rising freight rates are common just ahead of harvest each year, the recent sharp increases are of special concern given USDA projections Friday of bumper corn and bean crops.
Here are the numbers:
The soybean crop was projected at 2.836 billion bushels, down 41 million bushels from August. The average yield was placed at 38.5 bushels an acre, down six-tenths from August.
Analysts attribute the decrease to lower yields in the Upper Midwest. Despite the reduction, USDA left its forecast for 2004-2005 ending stocks unchanged at 190 million bushels, thanks largely to a decline in export projections.
For the corn crop, USDA is calling for a record harvest of 10.961 billion bushels, up 38 million bushels from August. Average yield was pegged at 149.4 bushels an acre, up five-tenths from last month.
Ending stocks for 2004-2005 corn were placed at 1.209 billion bushels, up 77 million bushels from last month, again due to sluggish export sales.
Wheat crop numbers from USDA will be delayed until a small-grains summary is released at the end of the month, although the agency did leave its estimates for both U.S. and world ending stocks unchanged.