What began as a promising crop earlier in the season never materialized as wet conditions during harvest took its toll on this year's wheat crop.

Acreage harvested for grain is estimated at 230,000 acres or 30,000 acres above last year. Production now is expected to total 10.1 million bushels or 23 percent more than 2002. Harvest was virtually complete by the end of June.

U.S. winter wheat production is forecast at 1.72 billion bushels. This is up 6 percent from earlier forecasts and 50 percent above 2002. The U.S. yield is forecast at 47 bushels per acre, up 2.4 bushels from last month.

Hard red winter, at 1.09 billion bushels, is up 9 percent from June estimates. White winter is up 2 percent from June and now totals 259 million bushels. Soft red winter, at 366 million bushels, is down 1 percent from the last forecast.

The July survey indicated Georgia's 2003 tobacco yield will be above last year's yield. This initial forecast puts Georgia's average yield at 2,300 pounds per acre or 200 pounds more than in 2002.

Disease problems have been minor this year while above normal rainfall generally has been a benefit to the crop. At the end of June, the crop was considered in good condition.

Georgia’s tobacco acres are up this year, with harvested acreage expected to total 29,000 acres, up 9 percent or 2,500 acres from 2002. If these projections are realized, production will amount to 66.7 million pounds or 20 percent more than in 2002.

All U.S. flue-cured production is forecast at 518.7 million pounds, up less than 1 percent from the 2002 crop but 10 percent below 2001. Yield per acre for flue-cured tobacco is forecast at 2,170 pounds, up 65 pounds from 2002 but 262 pounds below the 2001 yield.

Forecast yields for all flue-cured tobacco in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia increased from last year while yields are expected to decline in Virginia and Florida.

North Carolina's flue-cured tobacco production is forecast at 332.8 million pounds, down 2 percent from the 2002 crop. Yield per acre is forecast at 2,161 pounds, up 72 pounds from 2002. An unusually wet spring resulted in many growers transplanting late or having to replant.

However, in the Coastal Plain, where most of the tobacco is grown, the excess rainfall was generally beneficial because of the well-drained, sandy soils in that region.

Flue-cured tobacco production in South Carolina is forecast at 67.2 million pounds, up 13 percent from the 2002 crop. Yield per acre is forecast at 2,100 pounds, up 150 pounds from last year. Development of the crop was slowed by a cool, wet spring. However, warmer weather and normal rainfall during June hastened crop growth and development.

Peach production increases

The second forecast for Georgia's 2003 peach production remains at 125 million pounds, 25 percent more than last year's 100 million pounds. No late-season freezes this year and an abundance of rain have made this the best crop in several years.

At the end of June, the remaining crop to be harvested was in good condition. By the end of June, slightly more than half of the crop had been harvested, which is near normal. The 2002 production estimate has been revised from 110 to 100 million pounds based on a reduction of acres in production.

The July 2003 forecast of U.S. peach production is 2.62 billion pounds, up 2 percent from 2002 and 8 percent above two years ago. Nineteen states forecast increases in production from last year, while seven states expect declines and three states remain unchanged.

The California Clingstone crop is forecast at 1.15 billion pounds, down 3 percent from the June 1 forecast but 2 percent above 2002. The state experienced fewer than adequate chilling hours during the winter, which mostly affected the Stanislaus variety.

Set was reported to be lighter in the Modesto area than in the northern area of California. Growers reported some hail damage in the southern Modesto area. Harvest began in the Kingsburg area on June 19th. This forecast takes into account the green-drop program initiated by the peach industry.

The California Freestone crop is forecast at 770 million pounds, unchanged from the June 1 forecast but 3 percent below 2002. Fewer than adequate chilling hours during the winter resulted in a lengthy bloom period. Set in the early varieties looks good, while set in the middle to late-season varieties is down from last season.

Harvest of Freestone peaches is in full swing. Fruit quality is reported to be very good with excellent flavor and a long shelf life.

The South Carolina peach crop is forecast at 120 million pounds, down 8 percent from the June forecast and 25 percent below 2002. The peach crop is not doing as well as originally expected.

An abundance of rainfall has caused poor pollination in some areas as well as rot and above-average fruit drop. Damage from several hail storms in addition to a late frost also have taken their toll on quality and production.

North Carolina's peach crop, forecast at 9 million pounds, is down 10 percent from last year. Some orchards in the mountains and Piedmont received light frost damage at the beginning of April.

The quality of remaining peaches is good. Thinning was required in orchards that did not receive any frost. Wet conditions during June caused harvest problems for the crop with many orchards reporting hail damage.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com