In its December crop report, USDA said 2002 cotton production is expected to be down 14 percent from last year’s record 20.3 million bales because of the rains in states like Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina.

Georgia’s harvest was expected to be down nearly 500,000 bales from 2001 when growers picked 2,220 bales. Wet conditions in North Carolina were seen cutting 2002 production nearly in half from 1.67 million bales to 860,000.

The Louisiana and Mississippi crops are projected to decline from 1.03 million to 750,000 and 2.39 million to 1.92 million bales, respectively, because of Tropical Storms Isidore and Lili and the repeated rains that have fallen since harvest began in early September.

Texas growers, on the other hand, are expected to harvest 5 million bales, an increase of up 740,000 bales from 2001. Some High Plains growers reportedly are harvesting three-bale cotton this fall.

The Dec. 10 USDA report gave a hint of what might have been for farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi under more normal weather conditions.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service noted that Mississippi’s boll counts were surpassed only by those in 1997 and 1998, near-record harvest years for the state.

“The average weight per boll in Mississippi is the highest of the previous 10 years, the NASS report said. “Louisiana’s boll counts and weights are the highest since 1994.

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