If I Have Heard It Once, I’ve Heard It a Hundred Times

Considering that I’m an editor at a cotton publication, I sure hear a whole lot about corn. Since late last year, rumors have circulated that a lot of cotton producers would plant more corn in 2007. I say rumors, but really that’s just a euphemism for a fact that no one wanted to admit. You really can’t call it a rumor if it’s true.

In January, our annual acreage survey predicted that cotton would be down significantly, and last month the National Cotton Council’s planting intentions were released, predicting that 13.2 million acres would be planted. That’s down almost 14% from 2006.

In some areas, 14% might be a blessing. Acreage could be down as much as 25%, and even more in some states.

So what’s the deal? We all know the answer – corn, and in a big way.

The way I hear people talk, it’s like they were all standing around at cotton’s funeral. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First things first, cotton’s situation isn’t really that bad. Just a few years ago, we had back-to-back plantings around 13.5 million acres, followed by a couple big years. From year to year, acreage is going to go up, and it is going to go down. It seems to me that a bigger concern is that we sell the cotton we have warehoused, and fewer acres in 2007, along with an uptick in Asia’s consumption, could alleviate that.

More importantly, all is not lost for cotton. Many producers may rotate corn for a year, maybe two, but there are some producers who say their sticking to their guns. For them, cotton is a profitable crop, a crop they know how to grow.

With all the talk about corn, it was nice to hear from a grower who is not jumping on the bandwagon, or should I say combine. For all the great things I hear about corn, and admittedly price is a huge advantage this year, there are some hurdles to jump. Many growers don’t have the infrastructure to grow corn, and if they do, the country could be at capacity to store. Building more storage facilities for a couple bumper crops might not be the answer. Furthermore, cotton producers know how to grow cotton; jumping to another crop could spell trouble. But enough from me, and all the naysayers out there. Take it from a cotton grower who’s sticking to what he knows …

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