“Russia and neighboring countries have lowered production estimates and banned exports,” explains Scott Gerlt, crop analyst with the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (MU FAPRI). “That comes at a time of large U.S. domestic wheat stocks. The U.S. exports should increase to fill part of the gap in world markets.”

MU FAPRI projects an average wheat price of $5.10/bu. for the current market year. Total wheat use, including exports, could top 2.4 billion bu. by the 2011-2012 crop year.

“Corn exports also increase in response to strong demand in global grain markets. Higher grain prices could result in increased U.S. acreage for both corn and wheat in 2011,” Gerlt says.

Corn prices are projected to average $3.68/bu. for the crop harvested this fall. USDA estimates record yields this year, which moderates price increases for corn, Gerlt says.

FAPRI projects a soybean price average of $9.35/bu. for the 2010 crop. For both corn and soybeans, prices over the next five years remain below the 2008 peak, but well above price levels prior to 2007.

Lower feed prices have had a positive impact for livestock producers. “Some sectors are now profitable,” says Scott Brown, MU FAPRI livestock economist.

Feed prices have declined from the peaks of 2008, reducing costs for livestock feeders. “However, feed and non-feed expenses have not dropped to 2006 levels,” Brown explains. “As a result, 2010 returns per head remain below long-term averages.”

For the week ending Aug. 22, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:

Corn – 88% is at or beyond the dough stage, 33% ahead of last year and 14% ahead of the average pace. The most rapid progress was evident in Colorado, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, where 23% or more of the crop reached the dough stage during the week. 54% is at or beyond the denting stage, 37% ahead of last year and 17% ahead of average. 8% is at or beyond the mature stage, 5% ahead of last year and 2% ahead of average. In Illinois, high temp during the week pushed crop maturity to 29 days ahead of last year. 70% is in Good to Excellent condition, 3% more than a year ago.

Soybeans – Nationally, 91% was setting pods, 8% ahead of last year and 1% more than the five-year average. Timely, above-average rainfall in Illinois promoted steady pod setting and aided pod filling during the week. In Iowa, the largest soybean-producing state, additional reports of sudden death syndrome caused concern about the number of acres affected. 64% is rated in Good or Excellent condition, 5% less than last year.

Winter wheat – 95% is harvested, 1% behind last year and 3% behind the average pace. The most significant delay remained in Montana where harvest was two weeks behind the average pace.

Spring Wheat – 53% is harvested, 32% ahead of last year but 5% behind the five-year average. Despite steady harvest progress during the week, delays of 10 days or more remained in Idaho, Montana and Washington. 82% is in Good to Excellent condition, 10% more than last year.

Sorghum – 91% of the crop was at or beyond the heading stage, which is 9% ahead of last year and 6% ahead of the average. Heading was ahead of last year and the average pace in all estimating states except New Mexico. Coloring advanced to 46% complete by Aug. 22, 9% ahead of last year and slightly ahead of the five-year average. Near to above-average temps allowed for double-digit coloring throughout much of the Great Plains, as well as in Illinois and Missouri. 25% of the sorghum crop reached maturity, 2% behind last year and the five-year average. In contrast, abnormally hot temps throughout much of the growing season in Arkansas allowed for rapid crop development, and by Aug. 22, maturity had advanced to 90% complete, 63% ahead of last year and 41% ahead of the five-year average. 64% is in Good to Excellent condition, 14% more than the same time last year.

Oats – 90% is harvested, 22% ahead of last year and 3% ahead of normal. While overall progress in Wisconsin, the largest oat-producing state, remained behind normal, producers in North Dakota took advantage of warm, dry weather and nearly a week of days suitable for fieldwork as they harvested 30% of their crop during the week, pushing progress ahead of the average pace for the first time this season.

Barley – 52% is harvested, which is 28% ahead of last year but 10% behind the five-year average. 84% is reported in Good or Excellent condition, 4% more than at the same time a year ago.

Pasture – 52% of the nation’s pasture and range is rated as Good or Excellent, the same as last year. 19% is rated Poor or Very Poor, compared to 2% less than a year ago. States reporting 35% or more of pasture as Poor or Very Poor were: Alabama (38%); Arizona (38%); Arkansas (56%); Kentucky (38%); Maine (50%); Maryland (42%); Pennsylvania (38%); Virginia (53%); and West Virginia (44%).