The U.S. Department of Agriculture has lowered its outlook for the 2011 U.S. corn crop while making an increase to the soybean projection.

The USDA has corn at 12.497 billion bushels, a little below the average pre-report guess and down 3 percent from August but still up modestly from the year ago total and potentially the third largest ever.

However, given the difficulties faced by the crop this year and usual crop size trend – the estimate will more than likely come down as harvest gets underway.

USDA does note record high ear count projections for Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The average yield is pegged at 148.1 bushels per acre, compared the month ago guess of 153 and the year ago average of 152.8 bushels per acre.

If this follows through, that would be the lowest average yield since 2005.

Harvested area is expected to be up a little less than three million acres on the year at 84.388 million.

For soybeans, the crop is seen at 3.085 billion bushels, at the high end of estimates and up 1 percent from August, but down 7 percent from 2010.

Still, a lot like corn, after a pretty trying year in some areas, we’ll know a lot more once harvest starts and the objective yield data has lower pod counts in most of the top eleven producing states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio.

The average yield is estimated at 41.8 bushels per acre, compared to 41.4 a month ago and 43.5 a year ago, with projections rising for the Central Great Plains, including a potential record for Nebraska, but being slashed in the Southern Great Plains due to hot, dry conditions during August.

Harvested area is expected to be down around 3 million acres at 73.823 million acres.

Overall, the numbers look neutral for corn futures and bearish on soybeans.

Missouri: Corn: 372 million bushels, compared to 369 million in 2010; average yield of 120 bushels per acre, compared to 126 a month ago and 123 a year ago; harvested area of 3.1 million acres, compared to 3 million last year; Soybeans: 196.95 million bushels, compared to 210.405 million in 2010; average yield of 39 bushels per acre, compared to 39 a month ago and 41.5 a year ago; harvested area of 5.05 million acres, compared to 5.07 million last year.