USDA’s September crop report forecasts smaller U.S. corn and soybean crops and slightly larger cotton and rice production than last month. However, crop assessments are based on Sept. 1 conditions, meaning the effect of Hurricane Gustav on U.S. rice and cotton production may not be fully reflected.

Cotton production is forecast at 13.8 million bales, up 1 percent from last month but down 28 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 849 pounds per harvested acre, up 7 pounds from last month but down 30 pounds from the record yield in 2007. Upland cotton production is forecast at 13.4 million bales, up 1 percent from last month but 27 percent below 2007.

Producers in Texas are expecting increased yields from last month, while Georgia producers expect lower yields due to the effects of Tropical Storm Fay. Upland growers in Arkansas and Oklahoma are expecting record high yields, surpassing the records set in 2004 and 2007, respectively. In Louisiana where as much as 40 percent of the crop may have been lost or damaged by Gustav, average yields were lowered from 909 pounds to 775 pounds per acre. The assessments for the state could change once the full effects of the hurricane are known.

American-Pima production is forecast at 459,000 bales, down 46 percent from last year. Producers expect to harvest 9.41 million acres of all cotton and 7.66 million acres of upland cotton, both down 25 percent from last year and the lowest harvested acreage since 1983. American-Pima harvested area is expected to total 170,000 acres, down 41 percent from 2007.

U.S. corn production is forecast at 12.1 billion bushels, down 2 percent from last month and 8 percent below 2007. Based on conditions as of Sept. 1, yields are expected to average 152.3 bushels per acre, down 2.7 bushels from August but 1.2 bushels above last year. If realized, yield will be the second highest on record, behind 2004, while production will be the second largest, behind last year.

Yield forecasts are lower than last month across the northern and eastern Corn Belt and the Ohio and Tennessee valleys where the lack of rainfall during August reduced soil moisture supplies and stressed the crop. Yield prospects also decreased across much of the middle Mississippi Valley and adjacent areas of the Great Plains as dry weather during August eliminated soil moisture surpluses.

Soybean production is forecast at 2.93 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the August forecast but up 13 percent from last year. If realized, this will be the fourth largest production on record. Based on Sept. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 40 bushels per acre, down a half bushel from last month and down 1.2 bushels from 2007. Compared with last month, yields are forecast lower or unchanged in the mid-Atlantic states, the central and eastern Corn Belt, Louisiana, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Yields increased or are unchanged from the Aug. 1 forecast across the Southeast and the remainder of the Great Plains.

U.S. rice production in 2008-09 is forecast at 206.9 million hundredweight, up 1 percent from last month due to an increase in area. Harvested area is estimated at 2.924 million acres, up 45,000 acres from the August estimate. The average yield is estimated at 7,076 pounds per acre, down 40 pounds per acre from last month. USDA’s production estimates reflect survey data as of Sept. 1, and therefore, do not fully reflect the damage caused by Hurricane Gustav which hit the Gulf Coast on Sept. 1.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com