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USDA estimates: Cotton acreage declines, moves north

Cotton acreage in the United States is down slightly from last year and March 31, 2003, estimates, but apparently somebody forgot to tell that to Kansas cotton producers. They're increasing acreage 56 percent from 2002 levels. Meanwhile, USDA reported lower soybean and rice acreage from 2002, and virtually unchanged corn plantings.

All cotton plantings for 2003 are expected to total 13.9 million acres, down fractionally from last year and from the 14.253 million acres estimated in USDA's March Prospective Plantings Estimate.

According to surveys conducted by USDA the first two weeks of June, upland cotton producers planted 13.7 million acres this year, virtually unchanged from 2002. Acreage planted to American-Pima cotton is estimated at 176,000 acres, down 28 percent from a year ago.

Many growers east of the Mississippi River revised their spring intentions and devoted less acreage to cotton. Persistent wet weather across the South delayed seedings, forcing growers to seed alternative crops. Cotton acreage dropped slightly from 2002 in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, while rising slightly in Missouri and Louisiana. Meanwhile, Kansas increased its cotton acreage 56 percent to 125,000 acres this year, up from 80,000 acres in 2002.

Texas and California growers increased their upland cotton acreage from a year ago after a rather successful 2002 production season.

U.S. rice acreage for 2003 came in at 2.992 million acres, down 7.6 percent from last year's 3.24 million acres. Rice acreage declined in every state except Mississippi, which remained unchanged from last year at 255,000 acres. Arkansas acreage was reported at 1.45 million acres, up from the March estimate of 1.42 million acres but down from last year's 1.52 million acres; California dropped to 470,000 acres, down 60,000 acres from the March estimate and 63,000 acres from 2002; Louisiana acreage is unchanged from the March estimate of 470,000 acres but is down from last year's 540,000 acres; Missouri held steady from the March estimate of 170,000 acres, but is down from 2002's 190,000 acres; and Texas declined to 181,000 acres from the March estimate of 191,000 acres and last year's 206,000 acres.

Corn planted area for all purposes is estimated at 79.1 million acres, virtually unchanged from 2002 but 4 percent above 2001. Much-needed precipitation received in late April and early May across much of the Corn Belt helped relieve long-term moisture deficits. However, the early May rainfall slowed fieldwork and delayed some producers from getting their corn crops planted. Farmers reported that 95 percent of the corn acreage had been planted at the time of the survey interview — slightly below the average for the past 10 years.

Corn plantings in Arkansas are 350,000 acres, up from 270,000 acres in 2002. Louisiana dropped its acreage from 580,000 acres to 500,000 acres, while Mississippi stayed at last year's 550,000 acres.

The 2003 soybean planted area is estimated at 73.7 million acres, down 105,000 acres from last year and the lowest planted area since 1998. This is the third consecutive year that soybean planted acres have declined in the United States.

The planted acreage is up 471,000 acres from March. Persistent wet weather forced growers along the Southeast and along the Atlantic Coastal Plain to switch to soybeans from their earlier cotton and corn intentions. Growers in North Dakota and Minnesota planted less spring wheat and more soybeans.

All wheat planted area is estimated at 60.9 million acres, up 1 percent from 2002. Harvested area is expected to total 52.7 million acres, up 15 percent from last year. The 2003 winter wheat planted area, at 44.3 million acres, is 6 percent above last year, but virtually unchanged from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 32 million acres are hard red winter, 8.1 million acres soft red winter, and 4.3 million acres are white winter. Acreage planted to other spring wheat for 2003 is estimated at 13.8 million, down 12 percent from 2002. Of this total, about 13 million acres are hard red spring wheat. The durum planted area for 2003 is estimated at 2.8 million acres, down 4 percent from last year.

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