Agriculture - October 2009

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), most District areas received extensive rainfall through early October, raising soil moisture conditions to surplus levels. Excessive rains in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana increased the chance of disease formation, and some contacts expect lower yields for most crops.

Weak domestic demand and uncertain global market conditions continued to limit poultry production. A recent USDA report estimates that poultry production through August was 3.5 percent below year-earlier levels. Specifically, broiler exports for 2009 were estimated to be down 5.0 percent because of lower shipments to Russia, the United States' top export market. Rising U.S. exports to Mexico and the Middle East have not been large enough to offset weak sales to Russia and other markets.

According to the USDA, approximately half of the cotton crop was rated as being in good to excellent condition by early October. Georgia and Tennessee reported that 60 percent of their cotton crop received above-average ratings; however, recent rains produced harvest delays in Mississippi and Louisiana. World production and usage estimates remain unchanged from previous estimates, and weak demand from major textile producers is still limiting cotton export revenues this year. Through August 2009, cotton exports were down 23 percent from 2008 levels, largely because of lower prices.

Florida's orange forecast, at 136 million boxes, was down 16 percent from a year earlier. The smaller Florida crop has resulted in higher prices. In September, orange growers received $13 dollars per box, the highest price reported since late 2006. Florida's small citrus crop can be linked to the unfavorable cold weather and drought in earlier months. Higher cash receipts should help growers offset the rising costs of controlling diseases such as greening and canker.