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USDA projects record production for major U.S. crops

WASHINGTON – Favorable weather across much of the United States is expected to produce record-breaking yield and production in four major crops this year, according to USDA’s Oct. 12 crop production report.

All cotton production is forecast at 21.5 million 480-pound bales, up 3 percent from last month and 18 percent above last year's 18.3 million bales. Yield is expected to average 782 pounds per acre, up 24 pounds from last month and 52 pounds from 2003.

If realized, both production and yield would be the largest on record. Thirteen of 15 states are expecting production to remain the same or increase from a month ago. Louisiana increased estimated average yield 127 pounds from last month, to 764 pounds, while Mississippi bumped its forecast average by 125 pounds to 925 pounds. Harvested area, at 13.2 million acres, is the same as September but up 10 percent from 2003.

Corn production is forecast at 11.6 billion bushels, up 6 percent from last month and 15 percent above 2003. Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, the yield is expected to average 158.4 bushels per acre, up 9 bushels from September and 16.2 bushels above last year. If realized, both production and yield would be the largest on record. The previous record for both was set last year when production was estimated at 10.1 billion bushels and yield was 142.2 bushels per acre.

Yields are forecast at record high levels in all Corn Belt states except Minnesota and Wisconsin. Weather conditions have been mostly favorable throughout the growing season. Farmers expect to harvest 73.3 million acres of corn for grain, down 66,000 acres from September but up 3 percent from 2003.

Soybean production is forecast at 3.11 billion bushels, up 10 percent from the September forecast and 27 percent above 2003. If realized, this would be the largest U.S. soybean crop on record. Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, yield is expected to average a record high 42 bushels per acre, up 3.5 bushels from September. Below-normal temperatures and adequate moisture during August and early September across most of the Corn Belt, Great Plains, and the Delta region were beneficial to the crop during the final stages of development.

Above-normal temperatures followed the rest of September, just in time for the beginning of the harvest season. Area planted is now estimated at 75.1 million acres, up 256,000 acres from the August estimate. Area for harvest is forecast at 74.0 million acres, up 335,000 from September.

Meanwhile, the U.S. rice crop is now estimated at 255.5 million hundredweight, up 1.7 percent from last month and 13 percent from last year. Estimated average yields increased 112 pounds from last month to 6,763 pounds per acre. Both production and yield, if realized, would be records.

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