By Jim Steadman
USDA issued its 2013 Prospective Plantings report March 28, and the news for cotton was brighter. In fact, it was pretty much as expected.
According to the report, growers intend to plant 10.0 million acres of cotton in 2013, down 19 percent from last year, yet reflective of the optimism that has been building throughout the cotton industry since January.
Of the projected 10.0 million acres, 9.82 million are expected to be planted to Upland varieties, with the remaining 206,000 acres pegged for Pima varieties. Both totals still represent decreased acres from 2012, but the drops are not as severe as earlier survey projections for the year.
In January, Cotton Grower projected total cotton plantings at 9.731 million acres, a 21 percent drop from the final USDA planted acreage report from 2012. And, in February, the National Cotton Council’s early season survey placed 2013 acres at 9.01 million, representing a 26.8 percent cut in acres from 2012.
Since that time, world cotton prices have moved into the mid-80 cent range, with a few spikes into the 90 cent range. Several leading economists indicated that a softening of corn prices has helped make cotton more profitable and competitive, and anticipated more cotton acres than originally projected.
The USDA report also indicated potential acreage increases in Georgia and Florida for 2013, but projected record low acreage in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Acreage for the remaining cotton-producing states showed decreases ranging from 3-to-29 percent.
Among other crops competing with cotton for space in the fields, when compared to 2012 final tallies, USDA projected a slight increase in overall corn acres, a 22 percent jump for sorghum, single digit decreases for both rice and soybeans, and a 27 percent drop for peanuts.