U.S. soybean plantings are the largest ever this year — up 1 percent from last year — while cotton acres are up 5 percent over 2000, corn acres are down 4 percent, rice acres are up 6 percent, and wheat acres are down 5 percent, according to estimates from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In the agency's June 29 report, cotton plantings are pegged at 16.3 million acres; 16.1 million of that is upland, 235,000 Pima (a whopping 38 percent increase over last year).

Biotech varieties — insect-resistant, herbicide-resistant, and stacked-gene varieties — accounted for 69 percent of all cotton planted this year, up from 61 percent last year.

The report noted that Delta growers revised their original spring intentions and shifted several hundred thousand acres from soybeans to cotton, while producers in Texas planted an additional 200,000 acres of cotton than originally intended.

Delta states growers boosted cotton plantings by 22 percent to 4.79 million acres, while Southeast states growers planted 3.8 million acres, up 7 percent from last year. Southwest plantings are down 3 percent, while California-Arizona upland plantings dropped 15 percent due to a combination of low prices, high electricity costs, and the uncertainty of adequate water supplies.

In the Mid-South, Arkansas planted 1.17 million acres, up from 960,000 last year; Louisiana, 910,000, up from 710,000 last year; Mississippi, 1.7 million, up from 1.3 million last year; Missouri Bootheel, 400,000, same as last year; west Tennessee, 610,000, up from 570,000 last year.

Insect-resistant Bt cotton varieties accounted for 13 percent of this year's U.S. plantings, compared to 15 percent last year. Herbicide-resistant varieties totaled 32 percent, up from last year's 26 percent. Stacked gene varieties totaled 24 percent of planted acres, up from 20 percent last year.

Soybean plantings are estimated at 75.4 million acres, down 1.24 million from March. Area for harvest is estimated at 74.3 million acres, up 2 percent from last year.

Herbicide-resistant soybean varieties were planted on 68 percent of the acres nationally, up from 54 percent last year.

This will be the largest planted and harvested acreage on record for the U.S. soybean sector, the agency noted.

Planted acreage for soybeans has consistently increased every year since 1990, when soybean plantings were only 57.8 million acres.

Farmers responding to the survey indicated plantings this year were an average 10 percent earlier than the average for the past 10 years.

In the Mid-South, Arkansas soybean plantings are 3 million acres, down from 3.35 million in 2000; Louisiana, 700,000 acres, down sharply from 930,000 last year; Mississippi, 1.3 million acres, down from last year's 1.7 million; Missouri, 5.2 million, up slightly from last year's 5.15 million; and Tennessee, 1.08 million, down slightly from 2000's 1.18 million.

Rice acreage is estimated at 3.25 million acres, 6 percent more than last year, but 8 percent less than 1999. Long grain rice accounts for 81 percent of the plantings, medium grain 18 percent (down 27 percent), and short grain plantings are down 31 percent, representing less than 1 percent of the total U.S. rice crop.

Arkansas long grain plantings total 1.398 million acres, up from 1.138 in 2000; Louisiana, 560,000, up from last year's 460,000; Mississippi, 240,000, up from 220,000; and the Missouri Bootheel, 209,000, up from last year's 169,000. Medium grain plantings for this year and last year are: Arkansas, 130,000 (280,000); Louisiana, 20,000 (25,000); Missouri, 1,000 (no change). Arkansas short grain plantings were unchanged from last year's 2,000.

Nationwide, corn plantings are estimated at 76.1 million acres, down 4 percent from last year, with 69.3 million to be harvested for grain, down 5 percent. Reductions from March intentions were due mainly to persistent rains in the western Corn Belt and Texas.

This is the lowest corn acreage since 1995, when excessive rains also limited plantings.

Winter wheat acres for harvest is now estimated at 31.7 million acres, down 1 percent from the June 1 forecast and 10 percent below 2000. This is the smallest area harvested for grain since 1933.


e-mail: hembree_brandon@intertec.com