USDA has reduced its U.S. cotton export forecast for 2006-07 by 8 percent, to 14.5 million bales due to a combination of lower total estimated imports by China and a lower expected U.S. share of the China market.

Projected ending stocks were raised 1.2 million bales to 8.3 million bales. The forecast stocks-to-use ratio of 43 percent is the largest since 1988-89. No changes were made to production or domestic mill use.

Despite lower projected world production and higher consumption, world stocks were raised 1.3 percent due to an increase in the residual supply factor for China. China’s continued sluggish import demand suggests that domestic supplies are higher than previously estimated.

USDA’s estimate of U.S. corn exports remained unchang from its January report despite stronger competition from South America. U.S. sorghum exports were lowered 5 million bushels based on slowing U.S. shipments and sales to Mexico even as corn shipments and sales remain strong.

Projected corn production for Argentina was raised 2 million tons to 21 million. Brazil corn production was raised 4 million tons to 46 million. Both increases are based on good growing season weather. Good weather and higher prices also favor increased area for second-crop corn in Brazil.

The estimate of U.S. rice imports was raised 500,000 hundredweight to 18.5 million hundredweight. While rice exports remain unchanged at 102 million hundredweight, exports of rough rice were lowered 2 million hundredweight.

U.S. rice ending stocks were raised slightly to 30.4 million hundredweight with long-grain stocks projected at 21.6 million hundredweight, and combined medium-and short-grain stocks projected at 7.9 million hundredweight.

World rice ending stocks for 2006-07 were projected at 78.9 million tons, up 1.1 million tons from last month, down 2.4 million tons from 2005-06, and the lowest stocks since 1983-84.

U.S. soybean exports for 2006-07 were projected at 1.1 billion bushels, down 20 million bushels from January, but still a record high. Global soybean production was projected at a record 228.4 million tons, up 1.6 million tons from last month. The Argentina crop was raised 1.5 million tons to 44 million tons based on slightly higher harvested area and improved yield prospects.

U.S. wheat supply, use, and stocks projections for 2006-07 were unchanged in February. Global 2006-07 wheat production was projected 1.3 million tons higher. Global consumption was raised 1.8 million tons. Estimated global ending stocks for 2006-07 were lowered 1 million tons.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com