Bracing for a new record: USDA projects '05 cotton crop at 23.7 million bales

A 300,000-bale increase from last month in estimated cotton production in Texas, plus a 150,000-bale increase for Georgia, has pushed the 2005 cotton crop to a new record of 23.7 million bales. The crop is now projected to exceed last year's 23.161-million bale crop by 453,000 bales.

Yield is expected to average 832 pounds per acre, up 19 pounds from last month but down 23 pounds from 2004. If realized, production will surpass the previous record set last year, while yield would be the second largest on record. Georgia, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas are expecting record high yields. The December area expected for harvest remains unchanged from last month at 13.7 million acres but is up 5 percent from 2004.

Projected exports were raised 200,000 bales to a record 16.4 million bales. Ending stocks were raised 6 percent to 6.9 million bales.

Meanwhile, beginning global cotton stocks are up for India and Pakistan, due to prior year adjustments. World production is slightly higher, as increases for the United States, Pakistan, Australia, Syria and Burkina Faso more than offset reductions for India, Turkey and others. Consumption was raised mainly in China, based on recent yarn production. World trade is also raised slightly as higher imports by China and Turkey are partially offset by lower imports by Pakistan. World ending stocks are forecast at 1.5 percent above last month.

U.S. corn exports are projected 100 million bushels lower than last month due to increased corn exports by China and Ukraine. That pushed U.S. corn ending stocks higher by an equal amount to 2.418 billion bushels, 307 million higher than last year. The projected 2005-06 price range for corn is $1.60 to $2.00 per bushel, compared with $2.06 for 2004-05.

Projected 2005-06 U.S. grain sorghum stocks are up from last month due to a 10 million bushel drop in exports because of smaller-than-expected purchases by Mexico. Grain sorghum prices in 2005-06 are projected to average $1.45 to $1.85, compared with $1.79 for 2004-05.

Projected U.S. rice imports were lowered 1 million hundredweight to 14 million hundredweight, due to a slower-than-expected import pace early in the marketing year. Ending stocks were lowered 1 million hundredweight to 25.2 million hundredweight, down 12.5 million hundredweight from last year.

The forecast season-average farm price for rice is down 10 cents per hundredweight on each end to $7.65 to $7.95 per hundredweight, compared to $7.33 per hundredweight in 2004-05. USDA also projects an increase in global rice production due to larger crops expected in Australia, Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey. Global imports are projected higher due to increases for Indonesia, Malaysia and Nigeria. Projected global exports are up slightly from a month ago with increases for Australia, Pakistan and South Korea nearly offset by a reduction for Thailand.

World rice ending stocks for 2005-06 are projected at 65.8 million tons, up 1.2 million tons from last month, but down 7.1 million tons from 2004-05, and the lowest stocks since 1982-83.

U.S. soybean exports are projected 55 million bushels lower, to 1.02 billion bushels as competition from South American continues to limit U.S. trade prospects, especially to EU-25 and China. U.S. export commitments through early December are at the lowest level since 1998. As a result, soybean ending stocks are now projected to increase to 405 million bushels. The U.S. season-average soybean prices for 2005-06 is projected at $5.00 to $5.70 compared with $4.95 to $5.75 last month.

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