CHICAGO (B)-Although harvest of most 1999 U.S. grain and cotton crops is long over, loan deficiency payment applications continue to be steadily paid out.

Total LDPs had reached $4.472 billion as of Jan. 24, according to unofficial data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture 's Farm Service Agency. Of that, about $1.9 billion has been paid for soybeans alone, representing 2.056 billion bushels or almost 78% of the total harvest.

The money distributed to soybean farmers represents an average payment of 92.5 cents per bushel. The average payment on corn so far has been 28.2 cents, and the average on wheat 47.2 cents.

In the past few days, LDP payouts for 1999 crops have reached a level double the $2.730 billion paid out from the 1998 harvest. Recently, USDA estimated that LDPs in calendar 2000, which will encompass the final months of the 1999 harvest

and the initial 2000-crop payments, will be $7.9 billion.

All crops except barley have posted bigger LDP payouts in the current crop year compared with the previous year. For most, more bushels are covered as well, although the final 1998 total for soybeans was 2.130 billion bushels.

Cotton entries for 1999, currently 4.4 million bales, are still well short of the 6.3 million final for 1998, although the per-bale payment is much bigger.

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