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Cotton Grower Acreage Survey: Growers Dialing Back Acres in 2015

 

Acreage reductions will continue in the Mid-South region in 2015, as growers there indicate they’ll plant 1.25 million acres of cotton – down from 1.45 million acres planted in 2014. Despite a sizable drop in acreage of its own, Mississippi will lead the way in the Mid-South with just over 382,000 acres.

Industry insiders expect Louisiana’s acreage to continue to dwindle towards historic lows, with respondents indicating that only 115,000 acres will be planted to cotton in the state in 2015.

“People are talking about going heavy on beans because it appears to be the best of the worst as far as market prices are concerned,” said one Louisiana respondent. “Corn acres will take a hit as well to beans.”

Several Mid-South respondents said that overall strong yields in 2014 will help cotton hang on to a few more acres in the region in the 2015 growing season.

Meanwhile the Far West continues to account for smaller and smaller percentages of the national total. Respondents in Arizona, New Mexico and California indicated they could plant as few as 362,000 cotton acres combined in 2015 – enough to account for little more than 3 percent of the national total.

In California, nearly every respondent mentioned concerns about water availability in determining the amount of cotton acreage in the state in 2015. Weather patterns in November and early December could ultimately have a positive impact on acreage there.

“Things are looking up with some storms and snowpack these past few weeks, so there may be a little optimism that might increase plantings from 2014 levels,” said one respondent, before adding a caveat. “Water is expensive and there will continue to be competition for supplies with some crops (vegetables, specialty horticultural crops, trees and vines) that may have better profit potential.”

 

Driving Force

As with every year, the impact of the price of cotton on final acreage cannot be overstated. During the time period the Cotton Grower Acreage Survey was conducted, prices hovered near the low 60-cent range. For many growers, this price scenario would pose serious questions about the amount of cotton acreage he or she would need to plant to remain profitable.

It should be noted here that in 2014, this survey projected a total of 10.1 million cotton acres in the United States – a full 10 percent fewer than what was eventually planted. That uptick in acreage was due to a corresponding upswing in cotton prices between December and planting season of 2014.

Prior to this year, the last time the December contract on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange had dipped into the mid-60s was October of 2009. In the following winter months, however, prices rallied enough to support 10.974 million cotton acres in the U.S. in 2010 – a sizeable increase over the 9.1 million acres that had been planted in 2009.

As always, the U.S. grower is highly knowledgeable and responsive to the fluctuations of the cotton market.

State-by-state projections from the survey can be found on the following page.

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