USDA is estimating a U.S. cotton crop of 18.8 million bales this season, along with higher exports and declining domestic mill use.

In its first estimate of production for new crop, USDA projected a smaller U.S. cotton acreage, but a higher percentage of harvested acreage. The latter is likely due to favorable soil moisture conditions in the Southwest.

Yield per harvested acre is projected at 820 pounds. Domestic mill use is likely to decline to 4.4 million bales as U.S. mills lose market share to textile imports. In contrast, exports are projected to rise nearly one-third to 17.5 million bales, due to both strong foreign import demand and record U.S. exportable supplies. Ending stocks are projected at 6.4 million bales.

World production is forecast down slightly from 2006-07 at 116 million bales. World consumption is projected at 127 million bales, an increase of nearly 4 percent, reflecting continued strong world economic growth and competitive cotton prices relative to polyester.

For old crop cotton, USDA estimates slightly lower domestic mill use and a reduction of 250,000 bales in the export forecast to 13.25 million bales. The adjustments raise ending stocks to 9.5 million bales, the largest since 1966-67.

The 2007-08 corn crop is projected at 12.5 billion bushels, up 18 percent from 2006-07. Yield is projected at 150.3 bushels per acre reflecting a slower-than-average planting pace. Despite a 1-billion-bushel decline in carryin stocks from 2006-07, total corn supplies are projected at a record 13.4 billion bushels, up 7 percent from the current year.

For the first time, ethanol use is projected above exports at 3.4 billion bushels, reflecting continued expansion in ethanol plant capacity and profitability for ethanol producers.

Soybean production is projected at 2.7 billion bushels, down 443 million bushels from the 2005-06 record. Exports are projected at 1.1 billion bushels for 2007-08, unchanged from 2006-07. Ending stocks for 2007-08 are projected at 320 million bushels, down from a record 610 million bushels for 2006-07.

Biodiesel production is projected to use 19 percent of total soybean oil production for 2007-08 compared with 13 percent in 2006-07.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com