Better than expected yields in most cotton-producing states has increased the size of the estimated 2006 U.S. cotton crop by 2 percent from last month to 20.7 million bales, according to USDA’s Oct. 12 crop production report. USDA also estimated record soybean production.

U.S. cotton production is still down 14 percent from last year’s record high production, according to USDA. Yield is expected to average 774 pounds per acre, up 12 pounds from last month but down 57 pounds from last year.

October harvested area is expected to total 12.8 million acres, unchanged from last month but down 7 percent from 2005. The higher production forecast is a result of better than expected yields throughout the Delta and parts of the Southeast.

Average yields increased or stayed the same as last month for every cotton-producing state except Kansas, Missouri and New Mexico. Significant yield increases from last month were reported for Florida, 115 pounds; Louisiana, 78 pounds; and Virginia, 84 pounds. Soybean production is forecast at 3.19 billion bushels, up 3 percent from the September forecast and up 4 percent from the 2005 crop. If realized, this would be the highest production on record. Based on Oct. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 42.8 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from September but down 0.2 bushel from last year’s record high yield.

Compared with last month, yield forecasts are unchanged or higher in all states except South Dakota. States with the largest expected increase from September are Illinois and Virginia, both up 3 bushels from last month. Timely rains and cooler temperatures improved yield expectations in the central and northern Corn Belt.

USDA reported acreage updates in several states and soybean planted area stands now at 75.6 million acres, up 1 percent from June and up 5 percent from 2005. Expected area for harvest, at 74.5 million acres, is up 1 percent from September and 5 percent above 2005.

U.S. corn production is forecast at 10.9 billion bushels, down 2 percent from both last month and 2005. Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, yields are expected to average 153.5 bushels per acre, down 1.2 bushels from September but 5.6 bushels higher than last year. If realized, the yield would be the second largest on record, behind 2004.

Forecast yields are lower than September across the central Corn Belt as early harvest results revealed that the hot, dry summer conditions had reduced yield potential more than anticipated. However, producers in the northern and eastern Corn Belt reported better than expected yields due mainly to timely rainfall during the growing season.

Expected yields across the northern and southern Great Plains are unchanged from last month. USDA also reported acreage updates in several states bringing total corn planted acres to 78.6 million acres, down 1 percent from June and 4 percent lower than 2005.

U.S. rice production in 2006 is forecast at 192.3 million hundredweight, down about 1 million hundredweight from last month. Harvested area remains projected at 2.82 million acres, down 16 percent from a year earlier. Average yield is estimated at 6,811 pounds per acre, down 35 pounds from last month.

Long-grain production is projected at 142.9 million hundredweight, 700,000 hundredweight below last month, while combined medium- and short-grain production is estimated at 49.4 million hundredweight, down 300,000 hundredweight.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com