Cotton Marketing 101

Most cotton growers are very knowledgeable when it comes to growing and harvesting a crop. They have years of experience, often passed down through generations, and Extension agents, crop consultants and others can fill in the gap.

Using the cotton futures market, farmers can lock in prices (or at least price ranges) and indemnify their investments against falling prices. At the 2007 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans, Texas A&M agriculture economics professor John Robinson gave an introduction to marketing that outlined some of the basic definitions and principles of cotton and commodities marketing. The following are excerpts from his lecture:

Standardized Forward Contracts, Futures Markets and Price Discovery

If you are a grower, you are probably familiar with what a forward contract is. It is just where someone comes to you, and you hammer out a deal. You are going to deliver a certain amount of cotton, of a certain grade, to a certain location, and I am going to give you this price for it – all at some point of time in future. But what a simple standardized forward contract doesn’t provide, it doesn’t provide any information to anyone else as far as what cotton is worth in general.

Futures markets began simply to attempt to standardize cotton for those forward contracts. So when people started hammering out futures contracts, they were talking about the same quantity, the same delivery location, the same base quality – so they really allow people to trade “oranges to oranges.”

This may seem simple, but it has major benefits. If everybody knows what the going value of a certain standardized set of cotton is, then you have the benefit of price discovery – people know what cotton at a certain level is worth. So you can make your business decisions, you can decide whether to plant more cotton, you can decide whether to invest in a gin or to buy more equipment. That is the price discovery benefit of futures markets.

Who’s In the Game

Growers, co-ops and merchants all participate in the market – they are all hedging their risk. They are what we called “long” in cotton, because they own cotton and they want the price to remain high to protect their investments. “Long” means you are buying futures contracts; “short” means you are selling futures contracts.

Investor speculator groups also participate in the market. That includes small investors as well as large investors and hedge funds. The value of these groups is that they provide a lot of volume for the farmers who simply want the market to reach a certain level so they can get in and cover their risk and get out.

Contracts – Sign (Not Really) on the Dotted Line

In the cotton exchange, they trade two basic types of contracts: futures contracts and then options on futures contracts, which are derivatives of futures contracts. A future is an obligatory contract; an option is a right, but not an obligation.

An option is more like an option on your house. When you were buying your house or your property, you probably paid some money for the right to consider the deal you were offering that seller. You wanted a little time to consider it, so you paid for an option. You paid for a little time to consider buying that house at a certain price, but that option contract did not obligate you to buy that house.

Leave a Reply

Marketing Stories
OA Cleveland
Market Analysis

Cotton Prices Itching to Move Higher, as Growers Ponder Acreage Shifts

March 27, 2015

The market has shown it is comfortable with higher prices, as planting and production dynamics hold the potential for larger than expected U.S. cotton plantings.

Market Analysis

Cleveland: Market on Path to Higher and Higher Lows

March 20, 2015

Cotton prices bounced back in response to the time-honored adage, “low prices cure low prices.” But there are still a few bumps and curves along the way.

Marketing

Cotton Inc. Risk Management Seminar Coming to Lubbock

March 16, 2015

Cotton Incorporated is bringing its popular Cotton Price Risk Management Seminar to Lubbock, TX on April 8.

Market Analysis

Shurley on Cotton: March Madness as Prices Tumble

March 16, 2015

Thus far, March has not been kind to the cotton market.

Market Analysis

Plexus: Is the Worst of the Selloff Behind Us?

March 13, 2015

The cotton market seems to be regaining its footing, and trade buying is starting to resurface. This leads us to believe that the worst of this selloff may be behind us.

Market Analysis

Plexus: Market Momentum Continues to Stall

March 10, 2015

Market momentum has clearly been stalling. Physical business needs to pick up, but the latest wave of buying may be over for now.

OA Cleveland
Market Analysis

Cotton Market Sliding Along with No Drastic Moves

March 6, 2015

Much like the icy conditions across the Cotton Belt, prices have slid back and forth and sideways, as the price charts remain void of any drastic activity.

Around The Gin
Product News

New 2015 CROPLAN Cotton Varieties Feature Bollgard II XtendFlex Technology

March 19, 2015

WinField is adding Monsanto’s new Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton trait to two new CROPLAN cotton varieties for 2015.

Precision Technology

New Features for TeeJet Aeros 9040 Field Computer

March 18, 2015

TeeJet has added new features to its Aeros 9040 Field Computer for 2015.

Precision Technology

TeeJet Launches New DynaJet Flex Nozzle Control System

March 17, 2015

The new DynaJet Flex 7120 nozzle control system from TeeJet Technologies helps growers manage spray quality across a variety of operating speeds and application rates.

Product News

New Cheminova Chemistry to Help Control Herbicide Resistant Weeds

February 23, 2015

Cheminova plans to register pethoxamid, a new herbicide active ingredient, to help growers manage herbicide-resistant weeds.

Product News

Brake Herbicide Receives Section 18 Approvals in Six States

February 18, 2015

Brake Herbicide has received Section 18 emergency use exemptions for control of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth in six cotton producing states.

Precision Technology

TeeJet Matrix 430 Provides Simple, Easy-to-Use Guidance

February 18, 2015

TeeJet Technologies’ new Matrix 430 GNSS guidance system is ideal for a wide range of field applications.

Precision Technology

TeeJet Launches RX520 High-Precision GNSS Receiver

February 17, 2015

TeeJet Technologies has introduced the RX520 dual frequency GNSS receiver for precision farming operations.

Disease Control / Nematodes

Velum Total Approved for Cotton, Peanuts in 2015

February 12, 2015

Bayer CropScience has received registration for Velum Total, a new insecticide/nematicide for use in cotton and peanuts in 2015.

Latest News
Market Analysis

Cotton Prices Itching to Move Higher, as Growers Ponder Acreage Shifts

March 27, 2015

The market has shown it is comfortable with higher prices, as planting and production dynamics hold the potential for larger than expected U.S. cotton plantings.

Market Analysis

Cleveland: Market on Path to Higher and Higher Lows

March 20, 2015

Cotton prices bounced back in response to the time-honored adage, “low prices cure low prices.” But there are still a few bumps and curves along the way.

Market Analysis

Plexus: Market Bumps on Weaker Dollar and U.S. Supply Questions

March 20, 2015

While most commodity prices turned lower again, cotton rallied a bit, thanks to a constructive U.S. export sales report. But the big question going forward is how many tenderable grades are left in the U.S.?

Marketing

Cotton Inc. Risk Management Seminar Coming to Lubbock

March 16, 2015

Cotton Incorporated is bringing its popular Cotton Price Risk Management Seminar to Lubbock, TX on April 8.

Market Analysis

Shurley on Cotton: March Madness as Prices Tumble

March 16, 2015

Thus far, March has not been kind to the cotton market.

Market Analysis

Dull Trading Likely in a Stumbling, Mumbling Market

March 16, 2015

After losing its prior month gains in one week, the cotton market was left stumbling and mumbling. We are now likely in for a month – maybe two – of dull trading.

Market Analysis

Plexus: Is the Worst of the Selloff Behind Us?

March 13, 2015

The cotton market seems to be regaining its footing, and trade buying is starting to resurface. This leads us to believe that the worst of this selloff may be behind us.

Market Analysis

Plexus: Market Momentum Continues to Stall

March 10, 2015

Market momentum has clearly been stalling. Physical business needs to pick up, but the latest wave of buying may be over for now.

Market Analysis

Cotton Market Sliding Along with No Drastic Moves

March 6, 2015

Much like the icy conditions across the Cotton Belt, prices have slid back and forth and sideways, as the price charts remain void of any drastic activity.

Market Analysis

Shurley on Cotton: Not Surprisingly, Market Improvement Slows Down

March 2, 2015

The market is still full of uncertainties, and this recent slowdown might just be a signal that the market needs to take a breather.

Market Analysis

Quality Continues to Drive Cotton’s “Joyful Ride”

February 21, 2015

Cotton’s joyful ride continues, as prices have pressed the 65 cent level, driven by demand for quality machine harvested cotton.

Market Analysis

Plexus: Time for the Market to Rest and Regroup?

February 20, 2015

Look for the market pull back a bit and regroup over the coming weeks. But don’t worry. It’s just taking a breather.

Market Analysis

Plexus: Buying Pressure Should Keep Cotton Moving Up

February 18, 2015

Buying pressure over the coming months should help maintain the current upward move for cotton.

Market Analysis

Market Faces Long and Crooked Row to Higher Prices

February 17, 2015

The market has a very long and crooked row to hoe on its path to higher prices. However, it is sending multiple signals that the 57 cent resistance level did hold, and prices can now begin to ease higher.

Market Analysis

Shurley on Cotton: Upward Progress Finally Being Made

February 11, 2015

Prices should be nearer the bottom end of their likely range. If you’re going to plant cotton in 2015, be patient and wait for possible rallies this summer.