Producers optimism waned when warm spring was followed by dry summer developing into drought.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) U.S. corn growers, affected by one of the worst droughts on record, are forecast to harvest 87.4 million acres in 2012, down two percent from June estimates, according to the Crop Production report released in August by the USDA Statistics Service.

The 2012 growing season began on a very optimistic note for growers, with the fastest corn planting pace on record. The growers’ optimism waned, however, when the warm spring was followed by a very dry summer, developing into a drought throughout most of the Corn Belt states.

Despite planting the largest number of acres in corn in the past 75 years, growers are forecasting to produce 10.8 billion bushels in 2012, down 13 percent from 2011. Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, corn yields are expected to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 23.8 bushels from last year.

Just as with corn producers, soybean growers are greatly affected by the drought conditions in the United States. This year’s soybean production is forecast at 2.69 billion bushels, down 12 percent from 2011. Soybean yield is expected to average 36.1 bushels per acre, down 5.4 bushels from the 2011 crop.

Much of the nation’s breadbasket received precipitation totaling less than 50 percent of normal during August, but average temperatures returned to near-normal levels following oppressive July heat.

The start of August found much of the nation’s corn crop past the critical pollination stage, as warm, sunny weather throughout the growing season promoted rapid phenological development.

By Aug. 5, doughing and denting were well ahead of normal, with six percent of the corn crop at or beyond the mature stage.

Limited early-month precipitation in portions of the Corn Belt were beneficial to late-planted fields, but did little to help mature drought-affected corn. Producers in some states chose to chop corn for silage or bale it for hay as it would provide better nutrition for livestock given crop conditions this year.

In Iowa, crop maturity was reported as being nearly three weeks ahead of normal by Aug. 19. Nationwide, 95 percent of this year’s crop was at or beyond dough stage by Aug. 26, fourteen percentage points ahead of the 5-year-average, with denting evident in over three-quarters of the nation’s corn fields.

Monday’s cool front brought with it scattered showers and an estimated .51 inch of rain. Cooler temperatures are expected to blanket the area for the remainder of the week.