Georgia growers are looking at improved yields for 2008 for both their wheat and tobacco crops, according to the July report from the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service.

The state’s wheat yield is up from earlier forecasts, averaging 58 bushels per acre, or three bushels per acre more than the June 1 estimate. Acreage harvested for grain is estimated at 400,000 acres or 170,000 acres more than last year.

Georgia’s wheat production now is expected to total 23.2 million bushels or two and a half times more than last year’s crop of 9.20 million bushels. Favorable growing conditions and price combined to produce the largest crop since 1985. Harvest was nearing completion by the end of June.

U.S. winter wheat production is forecast at 1.86 billion bushels. This is up 3 percent from earlier estimates and 23 percent above 2007. The U.S. yield is forecast at 46.3 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from the June estimate and 4.1 bushels from last year. The area expected to be harvested for grain totals 40.3 million acres, up by about 12 percent from last year.

Hard red winter wheat, at 1.04 billion bushels, is up 1 percent from earlier estimates. Soft red winter, at 607 million bushels, is up 6 percent from the last forecast. White winter is up 1 percent from the June forecast and now totals 218 million bushels. Of this total, 23.3 million bushels are hard white and 194 million bushels are soft white.

The July survey indicated Georgia’s 2008 tobacco yield will be above last year’s yield. This initial forecast puts Georgia’s average yield at 2,350 pounds per acre or 200 pounds more than in 2007. Tomato spotted wilt virus has been reported as only a minor problem.

At the end of June, the state’s tobacco crop was considered in good condition. Acres are down this year, with harvested acreage expected to total 16,000 acres, down 14 percent or 2,500 acres from 2007. If these estimates are realized, production will amount to 37.6 million pounds or 5 percent less than in 2007.

All U.S. flue-cured tobacco production is forecast at 503 million pounds, down less than 1 percent from the 2007 crop but 13 percent above two years ago. Area harvested, at 221,000 acres, is 1 percent below a year ago but up 4 percent from 2006.

Yield per acre for flue-cured tobacco is forecast at 2,276 pounds, up 17 pounds from last year and 178 pounds above the 2006 yield.

Forecasted yields for flue-cured tobacco in Georgia and Virginia increased from last year while the average yield is expected to decrease in North Carolina.

Yield per acre is expected to remain unchanged from a year ago in South Carolina. In North Carolina, the leading flue-cured tobacco state, production is forecasted at 378 million pounds, up less than 1 percent from the 2007 crop. North Carolina accounts for 75 percent of the total U.S. flue-cured tobacco production.

Area harvested, at 168,000 acres, is 1 percent above last year. Yield per acre is forecast at 2,250 pounds per acre, down 20 pounds from 2007.

Drought conditions were prevalent across North Carolina, with soil moisture rated at 75 percent very short to short. However, the majority of the crop was rated in fair to good condition.

Flue-cured tobacco production in South Carolina is forecast at 45 million pounds, down 2 percent from a year ago.

Area harvested, at 20,000 acres, is 2 percent below 2007. Yield per acre is forecast at 2,250 pounds, unchanged from last year. The majority of the crop was rated in fair condition but low soil moisture affected plant growth.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com