USDA forecasts smaller cotton crop

The Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said that U.S. corn growers could harvest 10.1 billion bushels, a 12 percent increase over 2002, while U.S. soybean producers are on track to combine 2.86 billion bushels, a 5 percent increase from the 2002 crop.

Rice production is forecast at 195 million hundredweight, down 8 percent from last year’s total, reflecting a 7 percent decline in planted acres from 3.2 million acres in 2002 to 2.97 million in 2003.

In the Aug. 12 crop production report, which was based on the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s producer survey and objective field measurements as of Aug. 10, NASS said upland cotton production could reach 16.7 million bales or 1 percent above 2002, while Pima could total 450,000 bales, down 34 percent from 2002.

The Texas crop is expected to show the biggest decline from 2002 with 2003 production forecast at 4.4 million bales, down 640,000 bales from last year’s 5.04 million bales.

“During the month of June, high winds and hail damaged some High Plains cotton, USDA said in the August report. “The crop in this region was up to one month behind in development as the hot, dry weather did not arrive until July.”

Previous estimates had said High Plains growers lost up to a million acres to the winds and hail in June.

The Agriculture Department said the cotton crops in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas would be smaller in 2003 than in 2002, while the crops in other states would be larger.

Arizona was pegged at 570,000 bales; down from 613,000 bales; Arkansas, 1.5 million bales, down from 1.67 million; California, 1.45 million, 1.46 million; Mississippi, 1.85 million, 1.94 million; Missouri, 590,000, 610,000; New Mexico, 75,000, 85,000; Oklahoma, 160,000, 209,000; Tennessee, 740,000, 818,000; and Texas, 4.4 million, 5.04 million.

USDA is forecasting Alabama’s production at 740,000 bales, up from 2002’s 570,000; Florida, 128,000, 96,000; Georgia, 2 million, 1.58 million; Kansas, 150,000, 76,300; Louisiana, 750,000, 739,000; North Carolina, 1.05 million, 806,000; South Carolina, 370,000, 131,000; and Virginia, 130,000, 95,000.

Most of the increases were due to improved rainfall conditions compared to the extremely dry weather endured by farmers on the East Coast and Gulf South in 2002. Kansas farmers, meanwhile, increased planted acres from 2002’s 68,000 to 113,000 in 2003.

California’s Pima production is expected to decline from 2002’s 603,000 bales to 390,000 bales, resulting in the lion’s share of the decrease in American Pima production from 2002’s 678,000 to 450,500 bales.

USDA said Arkansas’ rice harvest is expected to total 92.6 million hundredweight, down from 96.7 million in 2002. Declines are forecast for each of the other rice-producing states, primarily due to decreased acreage resulting from last year’s extremely low prices.

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