USDA’s first crop assessment of 2006-07 is for smaller output in all major U.S. crops. However, planting is still under way in many parts of the United States, making the May 12 estimates for the 2006-07 season highly tentative.

U.S. cotton production for 2006-07 is forecast at 20.7 million bales, 13 percent below 2005-06, based on a projected yield of 770 pounds per acre.

U.S. mill use is projected at 5.8 million bales, a 3 percent reduction from 2005-06, as mills continue to lose market share to rising textile imports. Exports are projected at 16.5 million bales, also 3 percent below 2005-06, due mainly to supply limitations. Ending stocks are projected at 4.9 million bales, 22 percent of total use, which would be the tightest since 2003-04.

World cotton production is projected marginally higher at 115 million bales. World consumption is projected at 122 million bales, a 4 percent increase.

China is projected to consume a whopping 51 million bales due to rapid economic expansion. World trade is forecast at 43.5 million bales including 20 million bales of imports by China. World ending stocks are projected at 47.4 million bales.

U.S. soybean production is projected at 3.08 billion bushels, down 6 million bushels from 2005-06. U.S. exports are projected to increase to 1.09 billion bushels because of lower-than-expected Brazilian stocks. Ending stocks for 2006-07 are projected at a record 650 million bushels, up 85 million bushels from 2005-06.

Soybean prices are expected to remain firm mainly due to relatively strong corn and soybean oil prices.

Brazil’s soybean crop is projected lower at 56.5 million tons, reflecting lower-than-expected yields as harvest nears completion.

U.S. rice production in 2006-07 is projected at 205 million hundredweight, 18.2 million hundredweight below 2005-06, and the smallest crop since 2003-04. Planted area is estimated at 2.97 million acres and harvested area is projected at 2.95 million acres, both down about 12 percent from 2005.

Average rice yield is projected at a near-record 6,947 pounds per acre, up 311 pounds per acre or nearly 5 percent above weather-reduced yields of 2005-06. Imports for 2006-07 are projected at a record 18 million hundredweight, up 2 million hundredweight from 2005-06.

Exports are projected at 103 million hundredweight, 13 million hundredweight below last year. Ending stocks are projected at 24.6 million hundredweight, nearly 10 million hundredweight below last year, and the lowest stocks since 1998-99. Tighter domestic supplies along with higher global prices will help to support prices during the year.

Global 2006-07 rice production is projected at a record 417 million tons, up 5.5 million from 2005-06. Ending stocks are expected to decline for the sixth consecutive year. The global stocks-to-use ratio is projected at 14.6 percent, down from 16.3 percent in 2005-06, and the lowest since 1974-75.

The 2006-07 U.S. corn crop is projected at 10.55 billion bushels, 5 percent below last year. Total corn supply, at 12.8 billion bushels, is down 3 percent.

Domestic corn use for ethanol production is forecast 34 percent higher to 2.15 billion bushels while exports are forecast 6 percent higher to 2.15 billion due to reduced foreign competition and lower global feed-quality wheat supplies. Ending stocks of 1.1 billion bushels are down from year-earlier levels.

The 2006-07 U.S. wheat crop is forecast at 1.9 billion bushels, down 11 percent from 2005. Winter wheat production is forecast down 12 percent because of increased abandonment and reduced yields.

Exports are projected lower by 100 million bushels, due to tight U.S. supplies. Ending stocks are down 18 percent. Global wheat production, projected at 600 million tons, is down 3 percent while consumption is down 2 percent. Global ending stocks are projected to be the lowest in 25 years.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com