Despite an ongoing disaster in the drought-stricken, Southwest cotton crop, USDA raised its U.S. cotton production estimate for 2011 by 550,000 bales from last month.

USDA’s Aug. 11 Crop Report, released with the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, also projected the third largest corn crop on record, with an average yield of 153 bushels per acre, the fourth highest yield on record.

Cotton

USDA’s first survey-based crop estimates show 9.7 million harvested cotton acres, indicating that 30 percent of planted area has been abandoned due to severe drought. Production is estimated at 16.6 million bales, an increase of 550,000 bales from last month and 9 percent below 2010-11.

Domestic mill use is unchanged from last month at 3.8 million bales, but exports were raised to 12.3 million due to a larger projected supply.

Ending stocks are now forecast at 3.3 million bales, 16 percent above beginning stocks, but still a relatively tight 20 percent of total use.

Cotton yield is expected to average 822 pounds per harvested acre. That’s up 10 pounds from last year, even though average yield decreased from last year for 12 of the 17 cotton-producing states.

Every state except Oklahoma and Texas are expecting to harvest higher acres than last year. In Texas, the biggest U.S. cotton producing state, harvested acres were decreased from 5.35 million acres to 3.4 million acres, while average yield declined from 703 pounds to 635 pounds. Projected production in Texas declined from 7.84 million bales to 4.5 million bales.

Average cotton yields increased from last year for Alabama, California, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia.

Corn

Corn production is forecast at 12.9 billion bushels, up 4 percent from 2010. If realized, this will be the third largest production total on record for the United States.

Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, yields are expected to average 153 bushels per acre, up 0.2 bushel from 2010, and the fourth highest yield on record.

Acreage planted for all purposes is estimated at 92.3 million acres, unchanged from the June estimate. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 84.4 million acres, down less than 1 percent from June but up 4 percent from 2010.

Soybeans

Soybean production is forecast at 3.06 billion bushels, down 8 percent from last year. Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 41.4 bushels per acre, down 2.1 bushels from last year.

Area for harvest in the United States is forecast at 73.8 million acres, down less than 1 percent from June and down 4 percent from 2010. Planted area for the nation is estimated at 75 million acres, down fractionally from June.

Rice

USDA’s first survey-based forecast of the 2011-12 U.S. rice crop is 188.1 million hundredweight, up 1.1 million from last month’s projection, but down 23 percent from the record 2010-11 crop.

Average yield is forecast at 7,114 pounds per acre, up 55 pounds per acre from last month’s projection, and up 6 percent from last year. Area harvested, at 2.64 million acres, is reduced slightly from a month ago.

Long-grain production is forecast at 124.2 million hundredweight, up 700,000 pounds from last month, while combined medium- and short-grain production is forecast at 63.9 million, up 400,000 hundredweight from a month ago.