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USDA report indicates a bleak cotton market
MISSISSIPPI STATE &endash; A better-than-expected national forecast for cotton production is not helping the troubled price outlook for growers as they approach the harvest season.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released production estimates on Aug. 10. The outlook for corn and soybeans appears more favorable than that for cotton. The report predicts a 7 percent national decrease in corn production compared to the 2000 crop. Soybeans are only increasing slightly, up 4 percent nationally. Cotton will make the biggest national increase, up 16 percent.
"Demand for corn and beans has been strong, and the forecast is for a smaller total crop than originally expected. That will provide support for corn and soybeans," said Charlie Forrest, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "In other words, we can look for higher prices than projected earlier in the year. We still are in a weather market and will have to watch these commodities carefully."
Mississippi's growers are anticipating a much better harvest this year. The USDA predicted a 15 percent increase in corn production, a 2 percent increase in soybeans and a 52 percent increase in Mississippi's cotton.
"Yields are much more important to individual producers than these production figures," Forrest said. "Higher yields-per-acre mean better returns on the farmers' investments. USDA forecasts Mississippi cotton yields at 743 pounds per acre, and this is up 100 pounds from last year."
The economist said cotton prices received by producers the first six months of 2001 averaged 51.2 cents per pound. The five-year average price is 57.7 cents per pound. The cash price for cotton dropped a few cents in the first week after USDA released the production estimates.
"Soybean yields are projected to be 28 bushels per acre, compared to 22 last year," Forrest said. "Cash soybean prices are in the $4.80 to $5.14 range. USDA's August report raised its projected price for the 2001/2002 marketing year to $4.85 (midpoint), compared to $4.55 for last year."
Forrest said corn yields are forecast at 120 bushels per acre, compared to 100 bushels in 2000. Current corn prices are in the $1.90 to $1.97 range, which is slightly higher than the $1.90 Mississippi growers received for the 2000 crop.
Forrest said USDA estimates Mississippi rice acres for harvest to be 238,000 acres, up 20,000 acres compared to last year. Yields also are projected to be up 100 pounds to 6,000 pounds per acre.