NCC Survey Projects 9.4 Million Acres of U.S. Cotton in 2015

NCC Survey Projects 9.4 Million Acres of U.S. Cotton in 2015

U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 9.4 million acres of cotton this spring, down 14.6 percent from 2014, according to the National Cotton Council’s Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey.

The survey results were announced at the NCC 2015 Annual Meeting in Memphis, and reflect an additional reduction in acres from surveys released earlier this year by Cotton Grower magazine (9.718 million acres) and Bloomberg (9.73 million acres).


According to NCC, Upland cotton intentions are 9.2 million acres, down 15.2 percent from 2014, while extra-long staple (ELS) intentions of 236,000 acres represent a 22.8 percent increase. Gary Adams, NCC vice president for Economics & Policy Analysis, said, “Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed. Ultimately, weather, insect pressures and agronomic conditions play a significant role in determining crop size.”

He said that with average abandonment for the United States at 12.8 percent, projected Cotton Belt harvested area totals 8.2 million acres. Weighting individual state yields by 2015 area generates a U.S. projected average yield per harvested acre of 817 pounds. Applying each state’s yield to its 2015 projected harvested acres generates a potential cotton crop of 14.0 million bales – 13.3 million bales of Upland and 694,000 bales of ELS.

The NCC questionnaire, mailed in mid-December 2014 to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asked producers for the number of acres devoted to cotton and other crops in 2014 and the acres planned for the coming season. Survey responses were collected through mid-January.

“History has shown that U.S. farmers respond to relative prices when making planting decisions,” noted Adams. Cotton growers are approaching the 2015 planting season with harvest-time futures contracts at the lowest level since planting of the 2009 crop. After more than five years of stronger markets, cotton prices fell sharply during the second half of 2014.”

Survey respondents throughout the Southeast indicated a 10.6 percent decline, lowering the regional total to 2.39 million acres. Declines are expected in each of the region’s six states as cotton acres move into competing crops. Even with the expected reduction, the region’s cotton acreage remains well above the recent low of 1.89 million acres in 2009. In Alabama, the survey responses indicate a shift to peanuts and soybeans, while Florida’s acreage is almost exclusively moving to peanuts. In Georgia and South Carolina, the acreage shifts are more varied, with peanuts, corn and soybeans all expected to pull acres from cotton. In North Carolina, the shift is to soybeans, while corn benefits from the modest decline in Virginia.

In the Mid-South, survey results show that growers intend to plant 1.08 million acres, a decrease of 25.9 percent. All Mid-South states responded with intentions to plant less cotton in 2015. Without exception across the five states, the respondents indicate that cotton acres will move into soybeans for 2015.

Southwest growers indicated a 13.5 percent decline, bringing the regional total to 5.60 million acres. In Kansas, land shifting out of cotton is moving into corn and grain sorghum, and wheat is the expected beneficiary based on the Oklahoma survey results. In South Texas, respondents indicate a shift out of cotton and into grain sorghum. Respondents from Texas’ Blacklands region are moving predominantly to wheat, with a smaller shift to corn. In West Texas, the acres shifting away from cotton are split between wheat, corn and grain sorghum.

The West accounts for the largest percentage reduction across the four production regions. With Upland intentions of 134,000 acres, those producers are expecting to plant 46.6 percent fewer acres of Upland cotton – a new low for recent history. The survey results for Arizona suggest a shift from cotton to wheat, as well as to other crops. Upland growers also indicate a shift to ELS cotton. In New Mexico, the cotton reduction coincides with responses indicating more acres of grain crops.

Survey results indicate U.S. cotton growers intend to increase ELS plantings 22.8 percent to 236,000 acres in 2015. If realized, that total would exceed the five-year average by 18,000 acres. ELS results reflect both the fact that ELS prices remain more attractive relative to Upland cotton and likely capture expectations during the survey period of improved 2015 water availability in California. Final acreage will be affected by actual water allocations, which remain uncertain.

NCC delegates were reminded that these expectations are a snapshot of intentions based on market conditions at survey time. Actual plantings will be influenced by changing market conditions and weather.


Prospective 2015 U.S. Cotton Area
2014 Actual  (Thou.) 1/  2015 Estimated  (Thou.) 2/ PercentChange
SOUTHEAST 2,669  2,386  -10.6% 
   Alabama 350 306 -12.5%
   Florida 107 82 -23.2%
   Georgia 1,380 1,259 -8.8%
   N. Carolina 465 411 -11.5%
   S. Carolina 280 246 -12.0%
   Virginia 87 81 -7.4%
MID-SOUTH 1,455  1,078  -25.9% 
   Arkansas 335 203 -39.4%
   Louisiana 170 140 -17.9%
   Mississippi 425 368 -13.5%
   Missouri 250 192 -23.3%
   Tennessee 275 176 -35.9%
SOUTHWEST 6,471  5,595  -13.5% 
   Kansas 31 26 -15.0%
   Oklahoma 240 225 -6.2%
   Texas 6,200 5,343 -13.8%
WEST 250  134  -46.6% 
   Arizona 150 59 -60.4%
   California 57 35 -39.2%
   New Mexico 43 39 -8.3%
TOTAL UPLAND 10,845  9,192  -15.2% 
TOTAL ELS 192  236  22.8% 
   Arizona 15 36 140.5%
   California 155 174 12.3%
   New Mexico 5 7 31.4%
   Texas 17 19 12.7%
ALL COTTON 11,037  9,428  -14.6% 
1/ USDA-NASS2/ National Cotton Council


Source – National Cotton Council