U.S. soybean plantings are the largest ever this year — up 1 percent from last year — while cotton acres are up 5 percent over 2000, corn acres are down 4 percent, rice acres are up 6 percent, peanut plantings are down 4 percent, sorghum is up 6 percent, and wheat acres are down 5 percent, according to estimates from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In the agency's June 29 report, cotton plantings are pegged at 16.3 million acres; 16.1 million of that is upland, 235,000 Pima (a whopping 38 percent increase over last year).

Biotech varieties — insect resistant, herbicide resistant, and stacked gene varieties — accounted for 69 percent of all cotton planted this year, up from 61 percent last year.

Texas upland cotton acreage is at 6.2 million this year, compared to 6.4 million last year; Oklahoma has 250,000 acres, compared to 280,000 in 2000; and New Mexico has 75,000 acres, compared to 72,000 last year. Texas growers planted 17,000 acres of Pima cotton, up from 16,000 last year.

The report noted that Delta growers revised their original spring intentions and shifted several hundred thousand acres from soybeans to cotton, while producers in Texas planted an additional 200,000 acres of cotton than originally intended.

Delta states growers boosted cotton plantings by 22 percent to 4.79 million acres, while Southeast states growers planted 3.8 million acres, up 7 percent from last year. Southwest plantings are down 3 percent, while California-Arizona upland plantings dropped 15 percent due to a combination of low prices, high electricity costs, and the uncertainty of adequate water supplies.

Insect resistant Bt cotton varieties accounted for 13 percent of this year's U.S. plantings, compared to 15 percent last year. Herbicide resistant varieties totaled 32 percent, up from last year's 26 percent. Stacked gene varieties totaled 24 percent of planted acres, up from 20 percent last year.

Soybean plantings are estimated at 75.4 million acres, down 1.24 million from March. Area for harvest is estimated at 74.3 million acres, up 2 percent from last year.

Herbicide resistant soybean varieties were planted on 68 percent of the acres nationally, up from 54 percent last year.

This will be the largest planted and harvested acreage on record for the U.S. soybean sector, the agency noted. Planted acreage for soybeans has consistently increased every year since 1990, when soybean plantings were only 57.8 million acres. Farmers responding to the survey indicated plantings this year were an average 10 percent earlier than the average for the past 10 years.

Rice acreage is estimated at 3.25 million acres, 6 percent more than last year, but 8 percent less than 1999. Long grain rice accounts for 81 percent of the plantings, medium grain 18 percent (down 27 percent), and short grain plantings are down 31 percent, representing less than 1 percent of the total U.S. rice crop.

Texas long grain plantings total 211,000 acres, up slightly from last year's 210,000, and medium grain is at 4,000, down from last year's 5,000.

Nationwide, corn plantings are estimated at 76.1 million acres, down 4 percent from last year, with 69.3 million to be harvested for grain, down 5 percent. Reductions from March intentions were due mainly to persistent rains in the western corn belt and Texas.

This is the lowest corn acreage since 1995, when excessive rains also limited plantings.

Planted peanut acres this year total 1.474 million, down from 1,536,800 last year. Texas acres are pegged at 390,000, a significant decline from last year's 425,000. Oklahoma acres total 85,000, down from 97,000 last year, while New Mexico growers planted 24,000, compared to 27,300 last year.

Sorghum plantings nationwide total 9.75 million for all purposes, up 6 percent, and a small rebound from last year's record low acreage. Texas has 2.9 million acres this year, compared to 3 million last year; New Mexico has 210,000, up from 165,000; and Oklahoma has 500,000 acres, up from 450,000.

Winter wheat acres for harvest is now estimated at 31.7 million acres, down 1 percent from the June 1 forecast and 10 percent below 2000. This is the smallest area harvested for grain since 1933.

e-mail: hembree_brandon@intertec.com