The corn harvest is in the homestretch in several key Midwest farming states where the nation's worst drought in decades is now clouding the prospects for the winter wheat crop.
The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly update released Thursday shows that nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states remained mired in some form of drought during a seven-day period ending Tuesday.
Conditions in Iowa, the nation's biggest corn producer, remained unchanged, with three-fourths of the state still in the extreme or exceptional drought -- the two worst classifications. Nearly all of Nebraska still falls under those two categories.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has slightly lowered its projection for the size of this year's corn crop for a fourth straight month.
The USDA released its monthly crop report Thursday in which it estimates that farmers will harvest 10.71 billion bushels of corn. That's down from last month's estimate of 10.73 billion bushels.
The estimates change as the harvest progresses and the impact of this summer's widespread drought becomes clearer.
The average yield is about 122 bushels per acre. That's down from last month's estimate of 122.8 bushels.
Corn supply is now estimated at 11.77 billion bushels. That's down from last month's estimate of 11.98 billion bushels.
The tightening supply likely will push corn prices higher short-term but analysts expect prices to now stabilize.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 69 percent of the nation's corn crop has been brought in from the fields. That's more than double the average rate of the previous five years.