The U.S. cotton crop has inched back over 20 million bales, according to USDA's latest estimate of the crop's potential.

Average U.S. yield in the estimate was raised 2 pounds from last month, from 679 pounds to 681 pounds. On 14.138 million acres, that's a crop production of 20.072 million bales. In September, the crop was estimated at 19.9 million bales.

The Oct. 12 report did not significantly lower cotton yield and production expectations for the Mid-South despite widespread reports of seed germinating in the bolls in September.

That's mostly due to higher expected yields for Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas, and only slightly lower yield expectations for Mississippi — reduced 7 pounds. However, Louisiana appears to have been taken significant losses as the agency lowered the state's expected yield from last month by 90 pounds, from 685 pounds to 595 pounds.

The larger U.S. crop estimate translates into a slight increase in ending stocks. Despite a weaker outlook for U.S. and world textile demand, the forecasts for domestic mill use and exports were unchanged from last month.

Domestic mills are anticipated to retain a slightly larger share of U.S. retail demand, due to the higher cost and longer response time required for shipping textile products from south and east Asia.

The forecast for world production for 2001-02 is nearly unchanged from last month. While southern hemisphere countries, including Brazil, Australia, and Argentina, are forecast to reduce planted area in response to extremely low world prices, these reductions are mostly offset by yield-based increases in Central Asia and the African Franc Zone.

World consumption forecasts were reduced nearly 500,000 bales, primarily in India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, as a result of weakening global consumer demand.

Projected 2001-02 U.S. ending stocks of corn are up 97 million bushels from last month to 1.458 billion bushels as a larger crop more than offset lower beginning stocks and expanding use.

Forecast production rose 192 million bushels from last month to 9.43 billion bushels due to higher yields, but the crop remains more than 500 million bushels below the 2000-01 crop.

U.S. soybean production is forecast at a record 2.907 billion bushels, up 73 million bushels from last month's 2.834 billion and last year's 2.770 billion. The monthly increase is based on improved yield prospects.

Soybean export prospects were reduced 10 million bushels this month due to much larger South American supplies. Soybean ending stocks were forecast at 345 million bushels, up from last month's estimate of 255 million bushels and up from last year's 240 million bushels.

Projected U.S. 2001-02 ending stocks of wheat rose 20 million bushels from last month to 652 million bushels as smaller use and larger beginning stocks more than offset a smaller crop.

The U.S. 2001-02 rice crop is projected at a record 208.2 million cwt., up 1.8 million cwt. from last month and 17.3 million cwt. above last year.

The larger crop is due entirely to an increase in average yield, estimated at a record 6,328 pounds per acre.

Long-grain production is estimated at a record 161.1 million cwt., 1.4 million cwt. above last month and 32.3 million cwt. above 2000-01.

Combined medium- and short-grain production is estimated at 47.1 million cwt., up 400,000 cwt. from last month but 15 million cwt. below 2000-01. Imports in 2001-02 are projected at 11 million cwt., up 2 percent from last month. Exports in 2001-02 are unchanged at 86 million cwt. Rough rice exports are projected at 23 million cwt., down 8 percent from last month; milled rice exports at 63 million cwt. are 3 percent above last month.

Ending stocks are projected at 40.6 million cwt., up 2.1 million cwt. from last month and 12.2 million cwt. above 2000-01.

Projected world rice production of 393.3 million tons is the smallest crop since 1997-98. The decrease is due primarily to China's crop — projected at 126.7 million tons, down 1 percent from last month, 4 percent below 2000-01, and the smallest crop since 1994-95.

Global ending stocks are projected at 126.0 million tons, down about 1 percent from last month, 8 percent below 2000-01, and the smallest stocks since 1996-97.