U.S. cotton growers will plant 15.6 million acres in 2001, up less than 1 percent from 2000, predicts the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If realized, that would be the largest acreage since 1995 and the second largest since 1962, USDA said in its Prospective Plantings report released today.

Growers in the Delta intend to plant 4.35 million acres of cotton, up 10 percent from 2000.

Cotton producers in the Southeast intend to plant 3.69 million acres of upland cotton, an increase of 4 percent from 1999. North Carolina intends to increase acreage 13 percent over last year, surpassing 1 million acres for the first time since 1937.

U.S. soybean producers intend to plant 76.7 million acres in 2001, up 3 percent from 2000, USDA predicted. That would be the largest planted acreage for soybeans on record.

Rice growers intend to plant 3.09 million acres, 1 percent above 2000. Of the six rice-producing states, four intend to plant more rice acres. Arkansas and California farmers intend to plant fewer acres.

Corn growers intend to plant 76.7 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2001, down 4 percent from 2000 and down 1 percent from 1999.

A full copy of the Prospective Plantings report can be viewed at USDA's Website: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service