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Minn. will have nation's best corn crop, USDA says

The rest of the country will be looking to Minnesota to help fill its corn bins this fall. A new crop estimate from the USDA says the national corn harvest will be 13 percent smaller than last year. But up here where the drought is not as devastating, we're expecting to bring in 7 percent more than last year. And the sugar beet forecast is up a whopping 43 percent.
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In a summer of drought across the nation's midsection, Minnesota is a bright spot on the harvest map. A new federal estimate predicts the corn harvest here will be seven percent larger than last year, while nationwide it will be 13 percent smaller. The dry weather means the per-acre yields will be lower, but the number of acres planted this spring was a record both in the state and nationally.

The USDA report actually forecasts a smaller crop loss than markets had feared. That's spawned hope - especially among livestock farmers - that soaring corn prices will stabilize.

Minnesota's harvest is already underway, weeks earlier than usual thanks to the mild spring weather that gave farmers an early start.

Meanwhile, the federal ag policy that guides many of the decisions growers make expires at the end of the month. Minnesota's Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, spoke at a rally urging the House to approve a new farm bill. The Senate passed a new bill in June.

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USDA: Minnesota farmers will plant seven percent more corn in 2012

However, soybean and wheat crops will drop as much as eight percent because corn is more profitable. Minnesota's corn crop was valued at $7 billion last year. Corn planting is also expected to increase about four percent nationwide.

Minn. corn farmers projected to harvest record crop

Minnesota's cornfields will average 168 bushels an acre this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Pioneer Press reports this would be Minnesota's largest corn crop in state history and make the state the second largest corn producer in the country -- only trailing Iowa.

Last year's Minnesota corn crop comes in at record $7 billion

Even though production was down, Minnesota's corn crop was worth a best-ever $7 billion. The estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture tops the previous record the year before. The state's soybean crop was down 13 percent from 2010.

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According to the USDA's first official assessment of the season, nearly 100 percent of the state's record 8.7 million acres of corn is now planted. As of Sunday, 81 percent of the soybean acres were also planted.

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Record high prices for corn and soybeans have more Minnesotans looking to give farming a try. But the toughest part of getting started is finding an affordable piece of land. The demand for farmland is pushing up rents, which have risen more than 50 percent in five years.

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Minnesota farmers continue to make progress on planting corn and soybeans, thanks to warm, dry weather, the Associated Press reports. According to the USDA's weekly crop-weather report for Minnesota, corn planting jumped to 88 percent planted.