This year's U.S. cotton crop has climbed to an astonishing 23.16 million bales, a mere 90,000 bales off last year's all-time record crop of 23.25 million bales. Estimated average yield for the crop increased 13 pounds from last month's estimate — from 797 pounds to 813 pounds. The 2004-05 U.S. cotton crop was planted on 616,000 fewer acres than the 2005-06 crop.

It makes one wonder what the crop would have made had Hurricane Rita not blown a lot of Mid-South cotton on the ground late in the growing season.

Average yield increased from last month's estimate in 11 of the 17 cotton-producing states. The largest month-to-month increase occurred in Missouri, 88 pounds, Florida, 79 pounds, South Carolina, 64 pounds, and Louisiana, 48 pounds. The largest declines from last month occurred in Arizona, 61 pounds, California, 55 pounds and Mississippi, 41 pounds.

U.S. cotton exports were raised 200,000 bales from last month, while domestic mill use was unchanged. Ending stocks are estimated at 1.6 percent above last month, a stocks-to-use ratio of 29.3 percent.

World production was raised slightly from last month, as increases for Uzbekistan, the United States, Greece, and Mali more than offset reductions for Brazil and Tajikistan.

World cotton consumption was raised 1.3 percent, reflecting higher forecasts for the world's three largest cotton spinners China, India, and Pakistan. Higher imports by China and Pakistan are raising world trade and supporting higher exports by Brazil, Uzbekistan, the United States and Greece. Exports are lower for Pakistan and Tajikistan. World stocks were reduced nearly 2 percent from last month's forecast to 50.2 million bales.

Soybeans

U.S. soybean production was forecast at 3.043 billion bushels, up 76 million bushels from last month. Soybean exports were reduced 40 million bushels to 1.075 billion bushels based on lower-than-expected sales and shipments, particularly to EU-25 and China.

U.S. soybean ending stocks are projected at 350 million bushels, up 90 million from last month. The U.S. season-average soybean prices for 2005-06 are projected at $4.95 to $5.75, down 5 cents on both ends of the range. Soybean meal prices are also lower at $155 to $180 per short ton compared with $155 to $185 last month. Soybean oil prices are unchanged at 22 to 25 cents per pound.

Brazil soybean production is projected at 58.5 million tons, down 1.5 million tons from the previous estimate. Recent Brazilian government surveys indicate lower planted acres as producers face declining prices, stronger local currency, limited access to credit, and higher transportation costs, especially from the center-west region.

Grain

USDA raised its forecast for U.S. 2005 corn production by 175 million bushels from last month to 11.032 billion bushels. If realized, this would be the second largest crop on record.

Corn use increased by 75 million bushels from last month, primarily due to increased ethanol use. Corn ending stocks were raised 99 million bushels from last month and are 207 million higher than the previous year. The projected 2005-06 price range for corn is $1.60 to $2 per bushel, down 5 cents on each end from last month, compared with $2.06 for 2004-05.

Forecast U.S. grain sorghum production is up 13 million bushels from last month. Grain sorghum ending stocks are up 3 million bushels from last month. The projected 2005-06 price range for grain sorghum is $1.45 to $1.85, down 5 cents on each end from last month, compared with $1.79 for 2004-05.

Rice

U.S. rice production in 2005-06 is forecast at 220.7 million hundredweight, down 2.5 million hundredweight from last month, but still the second largest crop on record. Average yield is estimated at 6,603 pounds per acre, down 75 pounds per acre from last month, and 339 pounds below the 2004-05 record yield.

Projected average rice yields dropped in Arkansas, California and Missouri, climbed in Texas and remained the same as last month in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Long-grain production is projected at 173.2 million hundredweight, down 2.0 million hundredweight from last month, but still the largest on record. Combined medium- and short-grain production is estimated at 47.6 million hundredweight, down 500,000 million hundredweight from a month ago. Domestic and residual use is forecast at 126.2 million hundredweight, up slightly from last month and the highest on record.

Total exports were raised 2 million hundredweight to 121 million hundredweight. Combined milled and brown grain exports were raised 3 million hundredweight to 85 million hundredweight (rough-equivalent basis) and rough rice exports were lowered 1 million hundredweight to 36 million hundredweight. Long-grain exports were raised 2 million hundredweight.

Rice ending stocks are projected at 26.2 million hundredweight, 4.6 million hundredweight below last month and 11.5 million below a year earlier. The season-average farm price is projected at $7.75 to $8.05 per hundredweight, up 30 cents on both the high and low ends from last month.

Global rice production is projected at 406.1 million tons, 1.4 million tons above last month and 4.2 million tons above 2004-05. This would be the second largest crop on record.

China's 2005-06 rice production is projected at 127.4 million tons, 1 percent above a month ago. Rice export projections were raised for the U.S., Vietnam, Egypt, and Cambodia and lowered for Thailand.

Global rice ending stocks for 2005-06 are projected at 64.6 million tons, up slightly from last month, down 8.1 million tons from 2004-05 and the lowest stocks since 1982-83.


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com