Soybean yields in several top-producing states were significantly impacted by hot, dry weather in August, resulting in a 2.4-bushel reduction in average U.S. yield, according to a USDA report on U.S. crop conditions as of Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, USDA is projecting a record corn crop for average yield and production and a record rice crop for average yield. In addition, cotton yields improved from last month, including a 139-pound increase in Louisiana.

USDA dropped average U.S. soybean yield from last month from 36.4 bushels to 34 bushels. The reason was big declines in the top four producing states: Illinois, a drop of 5 bushels; Indiana, down 3 bushels; Iowa, down 5 bushels; and Minnesota, down 5 bushels.

Meanwhile average yields higher than last month were reported in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

U.S. soybean production was forecast at 2.47 billion bushels, down 7 percent from the September forecast and 10 percent below 2002. If realized, this would be the lowest production since 1996.

According to the Farm Service Agency, area planted is estimated at 73.6 million acres, down 68,000 acres from the August estimate. Area for harvest is forecast at 72.5 million acres, down 88,000 acres from September, but up fractionally from the 2002 acreage.

All cotton production was forecast at 17.6 million bales, up 4 percent from last month and 2 percent above last year's production. Yield is expected to average 696 pounds per acre, up 29 pounds from last month. Ten of the 17 cotton estimating states are expecting a higher production forecast than a month ago.

Harvested area, at 12.1 million acres, is down 1 percent from last month due to an acreage decrease in Texas. This decrease was due to the southern High Plains area being hit by late-season hail storms.

The largest forecast yield increases from last month were reported in Louisiana, 139 pounds; Mississippi, 65 pounds; Missouri, 49 pounds; Alabama, 47 pounds; Arkansas, 33 pounds; and Georgia, 30 pounds.

Corn production was forecast at 10.2 billion bushels, up 3 percent from last month and 13 percent above 2002. Yields are expected to average 142.2 bushels per acre, up 3.7 bushels from September and up 12.2 bushels from last year.

If realized, both production and yield would be the largest ever. Both records were set in 1994 when production was estimated at 10.1 billion bushels and the yield was 138.6 bushels per acre. Yields turned out to be higher than expected across much of the Corn Belt and central Great Plains as farmers began to harvest their crops.

Producers are now realizing that the hot, dry conditions during August did not have as much negative impact on yields as originally thought. According to FSA, farmers now expect to harvest 71.8 million acres of corn for grain, down 50,000 acres from September but up 4 percent from 2002.

U.S. rice production for 2003-04 was forecast at 197.3 million cwt, down about 1 million cwt from last month. Average yield was forecast at a record 6,624 pounds per acre, but 31 pounds per acre below last month.

Long-grain production was forecast at 145.3 million cwt, about 2 million cwt below last month, while combined medium- and short-grain production, at 52.0 million cwt, is 1 million cwt above last month.


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com