According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s first survey-based forecast, U.S. cotton production in 2012 is projected at 17.65 million bales, 651,000 bales above July’s estimate and nearly 2.1 million bales above last season’s crop. The 2012 production rise is largely attributable to the projected increase in harvested acreage as the U.S. yield is forecast slightly below last season.
Based on the August forecast, total cotton planted acreage in 2012 is estimated at 12.6 million acres, the same as reported in the June Acreage report. Despite a 14-percent drop in planted acreage in 2012, harvested area is projected about 1.4 million acres above last season at 10.8 million.
Based on the latest forecast, the national abandonment rate is projected at 14 percent, compared with 2011’s record of 36 percent. The U.S. yield is estimated at 784 pounds per harvested acre, 6 pounds below 2011 and the lowest in three seasons.
Upland production is projected at 17.0 million bales, 15 percent above the 2011 crop. During the previous 20 years, the August upland cotton production forecast was above the final estimate 11 times and below it 9 times.
Past differences between the August forecast and the final upland production estimate indicate that chances are two out of three for the 2012 crop to range between 16.0 and 19.3 million bales.
Compared with the 2011 crop, upland production is expected to decline in the Southeast, Delta, and West regions, while the Southwest is projected to be significantly higher than a year ago. Based on the August estimates, the Southwest crop is expected to reach 7 million bales, 91 percent above last season’s drought-reduced 3.7 million bales. While drought conditions remain across much of the Southwest region, the forecast abandonment rate is near the long-term average at 24 percent (1.7 million acres).
The 2012 yield is forecast at 615 pounds per harvested acre, compared with a 5-year average of 688 pounds.
The Southeast is forecast to be the second largest production region in 2012, after capturing the top spot in 2011. The crop is currently projected at 4.8 million bales, down from 5 million bales last season. A lower than average abandonment rate (1 percent) and higher than average yield (864 pounds per harvested acre) is expected to make the 2012 Southeast crop the second largest since 2006.
In the Delta, a cotton crop near its 5-year average is currently projected for 2012. Production is expected to reach 4 million bales, compared with 4.5 million in 2011. A 13-percent reduction in area this season more than offset a slightly higher yield. The Delta yield is currently projected at 911 pounds per harvested acre, 2 pounds above the 5-year average.
In the West, upland production is expected to reach 1.3 million bales, compared with 1.5 million in 2011. Despite lower area, a record yield of 1,553 pounds per harvested acre is projected, making the region’s upland crop the second largest since 2006. Extra-long staple (ELS) production remains concentrated in California, where more than 90 percent of the ELS crop is produced.
Decreased area in 2012 is contributing to the latest production forecast of 663,000 bales, 22 percent below last season. However, an above-average yield projection of 1,363 pounds per harvested acre is expected to keep the ELS crop from declining further this season.
U.S. cotton crop development in early August is ahead of the 5-year average. As of August 5th, 74 percent of the cotton area was setting bolls, compared with an average of 70 percent. Although most States exceeded their historical averages, there were a few exceptions; the most notable exception was Missouri, where only 52 percent of the area was setting bolls, compared with the 5-year average of 90 percent.
North Carolina, California, and Tennessee were also behind their respective 5-year pace. In addition, a number of States were reporting bolls opening, with Texas and Arizona leading the way. As of August 5th, 9 percent of the U.S. crop area had bolls opening, slightly above the 2007-11 average.
Meanwhile, 2012 U.S. cotton crop conditions have slipped below the 5-year average recently but remain above last season’s conditions. In early August, 41 percent of the crop area was rated “good” or “excellent,” compared with only 30 percent in 2011. In contrast, 27 percent of the 2012 cotton area was rated “poor” or “very poor,” compared with 41 percent a year ago. The worst crop conditions are in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas, with “poor” or “very poor” ratings occurring on 45 percent, 43 percent, and 41 percent of their respective area.