As the pickers hit the fields this year, North Carolina cotton farmers were on track to set another record. At planting time, the state's cotton producers topped the one million acre mark for the first time since the 1930s.

If all goes according to a North Carolina Agricultural Statistics' report, Tar Heel farmers will harvest a record 1.48 million bales of cotton. That's down 60,000 bales from the August production report, but still 51,000 bales above last year's record output. Experts attribute the production to an increase of 50,000 more harvested acres than last year.

Yield is estimated at 729 pounds of lint per acre. Nationwide, cotton production is forecast at 20 million bales, up 16 percent from 2000.

The North Carolina corn crop has benefited from near ideal growing conditions. Yield has compensated for a decrease in acreage, and is forecast at 113 bushels per acre. Production is expected to total 70.1 million bushels, making it the second highest on record, according to the North Carolina Agricultural Statistics. Nationwide, corn for grain production is at 9.24 billion bushels, 7 percent below last year.

The peanut crop in North Carolina is forecast at 2,900 pounds per acre, 150 pounds more than last year's yield. Production is forecast at 357 million pounds, up 5 percent from 2000. Harvested acreage is at 123,000 acres.

Soybean production is forecast at 32 bushels per acre, one bushel off the record set a year ago. Production is forecast at 41.6 million bushels, down 7 percent from last year. Acreage is at 1.3 million, down from 1.36 million in 2000. Nationwide, yield is forecast at 38.2 bushels per acre.

Flue-cured tobacco farmers anticipate production of 395 million pounds, about 3 percent below the 2000 level. The yield is forecast at 2,328 pounds per acre, down 93 pounds from 2000. Nationwide, flue-cured production is forecast at 582 million pounds, also 3 percent off the 2000 level.

North Carolina burley tobacco farmers have benefited from consistent rainfall and fewer incidences of blue mold this season and anticipate yields of 1,900 pounds per acre, an increase of 300 pounds over last year's levels. That's despite harvesting 900 acres less than they did last year. U.S. burley production is forecast at 372 million pounds, up 3 percent from 2000.


e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com