Washington As demand for ethanol zooms, Kansas corn farmer Ken McCauley expects higher prices for his crop.
"That's kind of the story across the country," said McCauley, who grows corn and soybeans in northeast Kansas. "There's a lot more buyers out there because of these ethanol plants and other ways to use the corn."
The amount of corn used to make ethanol should increase by 34 percent over last year's use to 2.15 billion bushels, the Agriculture Department said Friday in its monthly crop report.
Meanwhile, the nation's soon-to-be-harvested winter wheat crop is on track to be the smallest since 2002, analysts said. Farmers are expected to produce 1.32 billion bushels of winter wheat, down 12 percent from last year.
Drought in Texas, Oklahoma and throughout the central and southern Great Plains has dramatically reduced yields, which should average 42.2 bushels an acre, down two bushels from last year, the report said. Wheat prices should be $3.50 to $4.10 a bushel, up from $3.42 last year.
For corn, demand from ethanol plants as well as from foreign countries improved the price forecast to $2.25 to $2.65 a bushel, compared with last year's $1.95 to $2.05.
Demand has risen so sharply, the amount of corn in storage is expected to drop to half of that year's levels, the department said.