By Cinthia Murphy

BridgeNews Service

CHICAGO (B)--In contrast with the surprising estimates for U.S. corn production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's September supply-demand report brought no big surprises to so-called minor feed grains--sorghum, barley and oats. Nevertheless, the government agency reduced U.S. sorghum production and yield as well as feed usage and export projections for 2000-01. Barley also saw minor revisions, while oats were left untouched.

As of Sept. 1, USDA estimated that the 2000-01 U.S. sorghum crop would total 516 million bushels, down from the 578 million projected in August. Yield was cut to 62.1 bushels per acre from 69.5 bushels.

The crop in Texas continued to be the focal point of concern, analysts said. After seeing a nearly 3-million-bushel cut in August, USDA this month pegged Texas sorghum output at 179.8 million bushels, down from 182.7 million last month.

But this time around, loss in production was generalized. Kansas--the largest producing state--saw its output slashed by 51.2 million bushels to 192.0 million, due to extreme drought.

Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Dakota all saw a decline in production as well.

But some analysts said a higher cut in the crop size was expected. Crop conditions are the lowest in 15 years, noted Bill Tierney, of Kansas State University.

"If conditions don't get any better by Oct. 1, yields could drop to anywhere from 55 to 61 bushels per acre," Tierney said. According to him, with an abandonment rate of around 12%--which is typical--the final crop could total 423 million to 483 million bushels.

Tierney said 2000-01 could be a repeat of 1995, when conditions were similar, although slightly better, than this year. Back then, yield dropped to 56 bushels per acre, Tierney said.

USDA also lowered new-crop feed usage by 30 million bushels to 245 million. Exports were slashed by 20 million bushels to 220 million. Analysts said such cuts reflected expectations for a much smaller crop than previously projected.

The 1999-2000 crop remained unchanged at 595 million bushels.

After upwardly revising the oat crop size and yield in August, USDA left all estimates in the oat supply-demand table unchanged this month. The 2000-01 crop was still seen at 153 million bushels, with a yield of 62.3 bushels per acre.

In world production, USDA projected a smaller oat output in the EU, now seen at 6.63 million tonnes. The drop focused on Germany's production, which was decreased by 130,000 tonnes. USDA also cut Eastern Europe's output to 2.25 million tonnes from 2.32 million projected in August.

The 2000-01 crop is seen as significantly higher than the 146 million bushels produced in 1999-2000, although it still is extremely low by historical standards, analysts said.

USDA penciled in a 2-million-bushel boost to U.S. 2000-01 barley production, bringing it to a total of 310 million. Yield was upwardly revised to 59.2 bushels per acre from 58.8 bushels estimated in August.

However, U.S. acreage, which is at least at a nine-year low, remained unchanged.

Production increases were noted in Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington. Declines were seen in Wyoming and Colorado, while all other producing states had their output projections unchanged.

Other minor revisions were made. While new-crop feed usage was decreased by 5 million bushels to 140 million, exports were boosted to 35 million bushels from 30 million in August. Carryover saw a small climb of 2 million bushels to 105 million.

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