The U.S. cotton, corn and soybean crops are getting bigger each month, a testament to good growers and good genetics. If production forecasts are realized, each crop is on course to be the second largest crop on record.

According to USDA’s Oct. 12 crop production report, cotton production is forecast at 22.7 million bales, up 2 percent from the September forecast but 2 percent below last year’s record high production. Yield is expected to average 797 pounds per acre, up 15 pounds from last month but down 58 pounds from 2004. Estimated yields declined from last month in Louisiana, but rose for Arkansas and Missouri. Yield forecasts remained unchanged in Mississippi and Tennessee.

Area expected for harvest is unchanged from last month at 13.7 million acres. This is up 5 percent from 2004.

Soybean production is forecast at 2.97 billion bushels, up 4 percent from September but 5 percent below 2004. Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, yield is expected to average 41.6 bushels per acre, up 2 bushels from September but 0.6 bushel below last year's record high yield. Below-normal temperatures and adequate moisture during August and early September across most of the Corn Belt, Great Plains and Delta were beneficial to the crop during the final stages of development.

Above-normal temperatures followed for the rest of September, just in time for the harvest season to begin.

Corn production is forecast at 10.9 billion bushels, up 2 percent from last month but 8 percent below 2004. If realized, this would be the second largest crop on record. Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, yields are expected to average 146.1 bushels per acre, up 2.9 bushels from September but 14.3 bushels below last year.

Forecast yields are either unchanged or higher than last month in all states except Alabama and Mississippi. As harvest progresses, producers are finding the warm, dry conditions during July and August did not reduce yields as much as originally expected.

USDA lowered forecast U.S. rice production from last month from 230 million hundredweight to 223 million hundredweight, with declines for Missouri, California and Arkansas. No change in production was reported for Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

While that is 5.1 million hundredweight below last month, it is still the second largest crop on record.

The average yield is estimated at 6,678 pounds per acre, down 153 pounds per acre from last month and 264 pounds below last year’s record yield. Long-grain production is projected at 175.1 million hundredweight, down 6.3 million hundredweight from last month but still the largest on record.

Combined medium- and short-grain production is estimated at 48.1 million hundredweight, up 1.2 million hundredweight from last month but 13.8 million hundredweight below last year.

Beginning stocks are estimated at 37.7 million hundredweight, 14 million hundredweight above a year earlier. Imports are forecast at a near-record 15 million hundredweight, up 1.8 million hundredweight from 2004-05. Domestic and residual use remains forecast at 126.1 million hundredweight, the highest on record.

Total exports were lowered 2 million hundredweight to 119 million hundredweight. Rough rice exports were lowered 1 million hundredweight to 37 million hundredweight and milled rice exports were lowered 1 million hundredweight to 82 million hundredweight.

Ending stocks of all rice are projected at 30.8 million hundredweight, 3.1 million hundredweight below last month and 6.9 million below a year earlier.

Global 2005-06 rice production was lowered 0.9 million tons, with China, Brazil, United States, and Vietnam accounting for most of the decline.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com