Favorable weather and increased plantings may yield the largest corn crop in U.S. history, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Based on favorable early-season weather throughout much of the Corn Belt, USDA estimated on July 16 a 2007 yield of 12.84 billion bushels — more than 1 billion bushels higher than the record 2004 crop.

The report also noted that as of July 5, advance sales of the corn crop had reached 5.1 million tons, more than twice the level of sales at this time last year.

A smaller-than-expected corn crop in the Ukraine led USDA to increase its projection for exports by 1 million bushels, to a total of 2 billion bushels during the 2007-2008 marketing year.

Demand for food and industrial uses (including ethanol) is up sharply, to 4.79 billion bushels, while demand for feed declined to 5.7 billion bushels. If these projections hold up, the market for livestock feed will total 44.4 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, with exports accounting for 15.6 percent of the total crop use.

Ethanol production will use slightly more than 25 percent of the crop while slightly more than 10 percent of the crop will go for food and beverage uses.

USDA also notes that livestock will consume a greater amount of distillers dried grains this year.

Ending stocks for the 2007-2008 marketing year will increase by 365 million bushels, according to the report.

The report cites crop conditions from July 9 as one reason for USDA’s higher estimates.