A combination of good weather and near-record acreage has put the 2001 U.S. cotton crop on pace to reach a whopping 20 million bales, the largest production ever, according to USDA. The agency is projecting that the U.S. soybean crop will be a record as well.

Projected U.S. cotton production is up 16 percent from 2000. Yield is expected to average 670 pounds per harvested acre, up 38 pounds from last year.

USDA says the record production is a combination of the second-highest harvested acreage since 1962, coupled with above-average yields throughout most of the Cotton Belt. Nationwide, producers expect to harvest 14.3 million acres, 10 percent above last year.

Upland cotton accounts for 14.1 million harvested acres, 9 percent above 2000. American-Pima harvested acreage totaled 234,000 acres, 38 percent more than 2000. Upland cotton production is forecast at 19.4 million bales, a 16-percent increase from 2000. Pima cotton production is forecast at 593,000 bales.

Three Mid-South states are expected to increase average yield over last year — Louisiana, from 629 pounds to 693 pounds; Mississippi from 642 pounds to 743 pounds; and Tennessee, from 603 pounds to 643 pounds. Missouri's yields are expected to decline to 632 pounds in 2001, from 668 pounds in 2000. Arkansas expected yield dropped from 720 pounds in 2000 to a forecast 714 pounds in 2001.

The agency expects Alabama to have the largest season-to-season improvement in yield, a 190-pound increase, from 492 pounds to 682 pounds.

Estimated cotton ending stocks were raised 800,000 bales from last month to 8.1 million bales, 46 percent of total use. The August 2001/02 global cotton situation reflects larger production and slightly lower consumption, with forecast ending stocks up 4 percent from last month, according to USDA.

USDA forecast soybean production at a record-high 2.87 billion bushels, up 4 percent from 2000 and 8 percent from 1999. Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 38.7 bushels per acre, up 0.6 bushel from 2000. This is the third-highest yield, behind 38.9 bushels per acre in 1997 and 1998.

USDA projected a 9.27 billion-bushel corn crop, down from last year's 9.97 billion-bushel production. Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, yields are expected to average 133.9 bushels per acre, down 3.2 bushels from last year. If realized, this would be the lowest production since 1997.

USDA's supply/demand estimates projects higher ending stocks for wheat and corn and lower ending stocks for soybeans.

Projected U.S. 2001/02 ending stocks of wheat are up 6 million bushels from last month. Forecast production is 11 million bushels above a month earlier as a larger winter wheat crop more than offset a smaller spring wheat (including durum) crop. Imports are expected down 5 million bushels because of a sharply lower Canadian crop. Projected global 2001/02 wheat production is down only slightly from last month.

USDA's projected U.S. 2001/02 ending stocks of corn are down 369 million bushels from last month because of reduced supplies and larger use.

USDA's first survey-based forecast of the 2001/02 U.S. rice crop is 198.2 million cwt, up 2 percent from last month and an increase of 4 percent from 2000/01. U.S. average yield for 2001/02 is estimated at 6,151 pounds per acre, up 132 pounds per acre from last month's estimate but down 130 pounds per acre from last year's record.

Global 2001/02 rice production, consumption, trade, and ending stocks are little changed from a month ago.

U.S. soybean ending stocks are projected at 300 million bushels, down 45 million bushels from last month.


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com