Harvest report shows slump for sugar, soybean

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Harvest, Agriculture, Fatty acid, Usda

Harvests for sugarcane, flaxseed and soybean were all down last
year but canola and corn production was up, according to the US
Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The latest crop production figures were published last week by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NAAS). According to the annual report, the harvest for sugarcane​ from last year is expected to be the lowest in 7 years. For 2007 the harvest was forecast at 30.8 million tons. Sugarcane growers were set to harvest 883,500 acres for sugar and seed during the 2007 crop year, 2 percent less than last year. "If realized, this will be the lowest area harvested for sugar and seed since 1990. Yield is forecast at 34.9 tons per acre, up 0.5 ton from December and up 2.0 tons from last year,​" USDA said. Flaxseed​ produced in 2007 totaled 5.90 million bushels, down 46 percent from last year and 70 percent below 2005. The average yield is estimated at 16.9 bushels per acre, up 2.5 bushels from 2006. The report said some producers were put off planting flaxseed because of "favorable prices​" for other crops. This led to total harvested area across the down by more than half year on year, at 349,000 acres. Even in North Dakota, the leading flaxseed state, production totaled 5.55 million bushels, down 46 percent from2006. Flaxseed is a rich source of plant omega-3 and lignans. Yields for soybean​ are also down from last year across most of the eastern and northern Corn Belt, most of the Atlantic Coast states, and Tennessee. The biggest declines from last year occurred in Kentucky and Tennessee. However, 2006 was deemed as USDA as a record high production. Among their many uses, soybeans can be made into vegetable oil. Corn​ for grain production is estimated at a record high at 13.1 billion bushels, up 24 percent from 2006. The average US grain yield is estimated at 151.1 bushels per acre, down 1.9 bushels from November's prediction, but two bushels above 2006. This is the second highest yield on record, behind 2004, USDA said. The planted area for corn was recorded at 93.6 million acres, up 19 percent from last year to the highest level since 1944. This extra amount of acreage to grow corn was driven by growing demand from ethanol producers and strong export sales. A faster-than-normal harvest pace was promoted by dry conditions across much of the northern and central Great Plans and Corn belts during October. Canola​ production for last year was also up four per cent from 2004 to 1.45 billion pounds. USDA said this increase was due to a 14 percent increase in harvested acreage. Indeed, consumer demand has been a driving force in the canola market, Cargill told FoodNavigator-USA last month. Customers are increasingly demanding oils with no trans fat and low levels of saturated fat. High stability canola oil does not require hydrogenation and can be used successfully as a repeat use frying oil.

Related topics: Commodities, Cocoa & Sugar

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