If realized, this would be the lowest soybean production since 1996. High temperatures and moisture shortages stressed the soybean crop during the critical stages of development in the Great Plains and western Corn Belt during August, according to USDA.

Forecast yields are down in the northern Great Plains and upper and middle Mississippi Valley due to extremely dry weather. However, yield prospects improved in the Ohio Valley, Delta, Southeast, and Atlantic Coastal Plains due to mild temperatures and adequate moisture during August.

Cotton production is forecast at 16.9 million bales, down 1 percent from last month and 2 percent below last year's production. Yield is expected to average 667 pounds per acre, the same as last month. The lower production from last month is due primarily to reduced harvested area of 110,000 acres based on administrative data.

September harvested area for cotton is expected to total 12.2 million acres. Yield prospects improved from last month’s report in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia and declined in Missouri, Texas and the Carolinas.

USDA forecast a U.S. corn crop of 9.94 billion bushels, down 124 million bushels from last month but 10 percent above 2002. Based on conditions as of Sept. 1, yields are expected to average 138.5 bushels per acre, down 1.4 bushels from August but up 8.5 bushels from last year.

If realized, both production and yield would be the second largest on record. The record for both was set in 1994 when production was estimated at 10.1 billion bushels and yield was 138.6 bushels per acre.

Yields are forecast lower than last month across much of the Great Plains and northern Corn Belt as hot, dry conditions prevailed during most of August, USDA reports.

However, yields are up in many Southeast and Atlantic Coastal States as adequate moisture was received and conditions were mostly favorable. Farmers expect to harvest 71.8 million acres of corn for grain, down 100,000 acres from August but up 4 percent from 2002.

Total U.S. rice production was estimated at 198.2-million hundredweight, down from last year’s 210.9-million. Expected production dropped in every rice producing state. Yields are expected to average 6,655 pounds per acre, slightly higher than last year’s 6,578 pounds.

e-mail:erobinson@primediabusiness.com