USDA Projects Seven Percent Increase for Cotton Acres in 2014

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What a difference a year makes.

USDA issued its 2014 Prospective Plantings report March 31, and cotton acreage for this year is projected to total 11.1 million acres – a seven percent increase over last year’s numbers. Of that total, Upland cotton varieties are expected to be planted on 10.9 million acres in 2014 (up seven percent), while Pima acreage is pegged at only 158,000 acres – down 21 percent from last year.

The 11.1 million acre projection is in line with the February release of the National Cotton Council (NCC) Early Season Planting Intentions Survey number of 11.26 million acres and well ahead of Cotton Grower’s annual acreage survey number of 10.156 million acres, released in January.

The Cotton Grower survey was conducted from mid-October to early December 2013 following a long harvest season. At that time, survey respondents indicated that water shortages and competitive crop prices would be key factors in determining their cotton acres for 2014. The NCC survey, conducted in early 2014, showed more optimism among respondents as cotton prices held firm in the face of softening grain prices.

The USDA number puts cotton acreage in perspective with projected plantings for all other major crops, as well as accounting for recent commodity price changes. Among other crops competing with cotton for space in the fields, USDA projected a four percent decrease in corn acres, a six percent increase for soybeans, a slight decrease for wheat, significant jumps for both rice and peanuts, and a 17 percent drop for sorghum.

According to the USDA report, Texas will again lead the way with 6.4 million projected acres of cotton – up 10 percent. Georgia will hold steady at 1.3 million acres, while acreage increases are expected in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.

The largest projected acreage loss comes in California, where water shortages are expected to impact all crops. Acreage in the remaining cotton-producing states – Alabama, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and South Carolina – is projected to be flat to slightly down for 2014.

Jim Steadman is Field and Online Editor for Cotton Grower magazine. He has spent more than 35 years in agricultural writing and marketing.
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