Despite raging drought across wide swaths of cattle and wheat country, corn is defying market expectations, according to last Friday's much anticipated USDA Crop Production report.

This year's corn crop is now pegged at 10.976 billion bu. Though that's 1% less than last year and 7% shy of the bin-buster in 2004, it would be the near-record crop needed to keep feed prices from running away.

Soybean production is estimated at 2.93 billion bu., 5% down from last year; 6% less than 2004. Meanwhile, the 1.8 billion bu. estimated for all wheat production would make this year's crop 14% less than a year ago.

For the week ending Aug. 5, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

  • Corn -- 97% is at or beyond the silking stage, which is the same as last year and 5% ahead of average. 44% advanced to the Dough Stage, compared to 42% last year and 36% for the five-year average. 12% has entered the Dent Stage, which is 2% ahead of last year and the average. 57% is rated Good or better, compared to 52% last year.
  • Soybeans --Blooming has begun on 93% of the acreage, 2% behind last year, but 3% ahead of normal 72% was setting pods, 1% behind last year but 11% ahead of normal. 53% is rated Good or better; 51% was at the same time last year.
  • Winter Wheat -- Growers have reaped 94% of the acreage, compared to 93% last year and 91% for average.
  • Spring Wheat -- 49% of the crop is in the bin, which is 28% ahead of last year and 32% ahead of the five-year average. 32% is rated Good or better, compared to 67% last year.
  • Barley -- Harvest advanced to 37% complete, compared to 20% at this time last year and 15% for normal. 50% is rated Good or better, compared to 71% last year.
  • Oats -- 77% of the acreage is harvested, compared to 66% last year and 55% for average.
  • Sorghum -- 67% of the acreage is in the heading stage, which is the same as last year and 5% ahead of average. 29% was at or beyond turning color, 6% ahead of last year and 4% ahead of normal. 31% is ranked Good or better, compared to 44% last year.
  • Pasture -- 19% is rated Good and 3% is rated Excellent, compared to 31% and 5%, respectively last year. 26% is rated Poor and 24% is ranked Very Poor, compared to 20% and 12% respectively at the same time last year.
States with the worst pasture conditions -- at least 40% of the acreage rated poor or worse -- include: Alabama (77%); Arizona (74%); Arkansas (57%); California (46%); Colorado (62%); Georgia (67%); Iowa (49%); Kansas (53%); Louisiana (43%) ; Minnesota (55%); Mississippi (52%); Missouri (71%); Montana (40%); Nebraska (70%); New Mexico (42%); North Dakota (74%); Oklahoma (78%); South Dakota (72%); Texas (74%); Wyoming (73%).

States with the lushest pasture conditions -- at least 40% rated good or better -- include: Florida (69%); Idaho (60%); Illinois (46%); Indiana (61%); Kentucky (54%); Maine (91%); Maryland (50%); Michigan (57%); New York (67%); North Carolina (52%); Ohio (72%); Pennsylvania (51%); Utah (54%); Washington (51%); West Virginia (62%).