Cotton to increase in 2014


Following a questionnaire sent to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, the National Cotton Council is now reporting that farmers intend to plant 8.2 percent more cotton in 2014, according to its 31st Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey.

The 8.2 percent increase will add up to 11.2 million planted acres of cotton this spring.

Upland cotton intentions are 11.04 million acres, up 8.1 percent for 2013.

“Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed,” said Dr. Gary Adams, NCC’s vice president of Economics & Policy Analysis.

“Ultimately, weather, insect pressures and agronomic conditions play a significant role in determining crop size.”

He said that with expected abandonment for the United States at roughly 15 percent, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 9.59 million acres. Weighting individual state yields by 2014 area generates a U.S. average yield per harvested acre of 819 pounds. Applying each state’s yield to its 2014 projected harvested acres generates a cotton crop of 16.37 million bales with 15.72 million bales of upland. If realized, that would be an increase of 3.2 million bales from the current USDA estimate of the 2013 crop, according to the NCC.

Mailed in mid-December, the NCC questionnaire asked producers for the number of acres devoted to cotton in 2013 and the acres planned for the next season.

Producers in Texas reported 5.8 million acres of cotton in 2013, according to the USDA, and are planning a 12.2 percent increase to 6.5 million in 2014, according to the NCC.

According to Mary Jane Buerkle, communications director for Plains Cotton Growers, the High Plains area will more than likely plant about 4 million cotton acres in 2014, a significant increase from the 3.8 million planted last year.

The boost in confidence may come from an increase in moisture in 2013, compared with the past two drought-stricken years.

“All the precipitation we’ve been getting is definitely helping the 2014 crop,” Buerkle said in a recent interview with the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. “It’s been good to get some of this precipitation over the last few months because it does set us up well going into 2014, when it comes to soil moisture.”

In spite of very optimistic outlooks on the upcoming season, some local farmers are still a little cautious, as precipitation has been light in 2014.

“It’s still very dry,” said Shane Steen, a producer outside of Hale Center.

Steen, who says he exclusively plants cotton, explained he will only plant irrigated cotton if the dry trend continues, cutting out 20 percent of his acreage.

“Farmers are still acting very reserved,” Steen said.