USDA releases national tobacco, wheat, peach crop estimates

U.S. all flue-cured tobacco production is forecast at 476 million pounds, up 7 percent from the 2006 crop and 25 percent above two years ago.

Area harvested, at 224,000 acres, is 5 percent above a year ago and up 28 percent from 2005. Yield per acre for flue-cured tobacco is forecast at 2,126 pounds, up 31 pounds from last year but 56 pounds below the 2005 yield.

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

In North Carolina, the leading flue-cured tobacco state, production is forecast at 342 million pounds, up 6 percent from the 2006 crop. North Carolina accounts for 72 percent of the total U.S. flue-cured tobacco production.

Area harvested, at 163,000 acres, is 5 percent above last year. Yield per acre is forecast at 2,100 pounds, up 10 pounds from 2006.

Drought conditions are prevalent across the state with soil moisture rated 58 percent very short to short. The majority of the crop is rated in fair to good condition.

U.S. winter wheat production is forecast at 1.56 billion bushels. This is down 3 percent from last month but 20 percent above 2006. The U.S. yield is forecast at 41.6 bushels per acre, down 1.6 bushels from last month and down 0.1 bushel from last year.

The area expected to be harvested for grain totals 37.6 million acres, unchanged from the acreage report released on June 29, 2007 but up 21 percent from last year.

Hard red winter, at 964 million bushels, is down 7 percent from a month ago.

Soft red winter, at 364 million bushels, is up 7 percent from the last forecast.

White winter is down 1 percent from last month and now totals 235million bushels. Of this total, 18.1 million bushels are hard white and 216 million bushels are soft white.

The U.S. peach production forecast is 1.03 million tons, up 2 percent from 2006 but 13 percent below the 2005 crop. Nineteen of the 28 Freestone peach estimating states expect decreases in production from last year, while six states increased their production from the previous season, and three states showed no change.

Freestone production, at 576,845 tons, is down 11 percent from last season.

The California Clingstone crop is forecast at 450,000 tons, equal to the June 1 forecast, but 25 percent above the 2006 crop.

California experienced an adequate number of chilling hours which benefited the Clingstone crop. Overall, the bloom was reported to be good on all varieties. Thinning progressed slowly due to labor shortages and heavy fruit sets.

Harvest began in Kingsburg on June 14, eight days earlier than last year.

Fruit sizes are reported to be small, but quality is reported to be excellent.

The California Freestone crop is forecast at 390,000 tons, equal to the June 1 forecast but 10 percent above the 2006 crop. The Freestone bloom period was fairly quick, with above average temperatures and no rain.

The crop is reported to be of excellent quality with good sizes. Harvest continued during June with Brittany Lane, Honey Sweet, Ice Princess, Crimson Lady, and Super Rich the major varieties picked.

Devastating cold temperatures in early April damaged peach orchards in the Atlantic states from New York to Georgia. Production in the Southeastern states was affected the most.

The South Carolina peach crop is forecast at 8,000 tons, equal to the June 1 forecast but 87 percent below 2006. Damage was reported across the entire state with severe losses reported.

Georgia's peach crop is forecast at 13,000 tons, down 24 percent from the June 1 forecast and 68 percent below 2006. In addition to frost damage, the state's orchardists reported smaller fruit size because of the dry conditions.

North Carolina's peach crop, at 1,000 tons, is down 82 percent from a year ago, while Virginia's crop is down 48 percent. Alabama's peach crop has suffered substantially due to untimely freezes in early April and abnormally dry weather throughout the spring and summer.

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