Farmers across the Texas High Plains planted 3.48 million acres of cotton this spring, which represents a 10 percent decline from 2014, according to the most recent acreage estimate from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Those numbers were posted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week, and relayed by Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., in its weekend Cotton News publication.
“This did not come as a surprise to us,” PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. “We’ve talked to farmers over the last several months and many of them indicated they were considering a change in their cropping systems. Although we certainly want them to keep cotton in that mix, and many will, we also understand that they must do what works best for their operation.”
The report indicates that the northern portion of the PCG service area reported a larger decrease than the southern part of the region. Growers in northern counties planted 580,000 acres, down 29 percent from 2014. Growers in southern counties planted 2,900,000 acres, down 4.5 percent.
That decline was not unexpected, PCG indicated, due to low commodity prices and delayed spring planting.
PCG said Texas growers planted about 5.2 million acres of cotton in 2015, down from 6.2 million in 2014. The greatest decreases were in South Texas, where excessive rainfall prevented many growers from planting cotton. Corn and sorghum planted acreage were up 150,000 acres and 600,000 acres statewide, respectively.
Nationwide, growers are estimated to have planted 8.85 million acres of upland cotton, down 18 percent from 2014. This decrease is more than many analysts predicted earlier in the year, but those estimates were calculated before the season began.
“At that time, no one would ever have thought the growing season would have begun the way it did, especially in South Texas and even here on the High Plains,” Verett said. “This rainfall, although it was beneficial, definitely cost us some cotton acreage.”
While the planting season for cotton has ended, these latest numbers are still subject to change.
According to USDA, its statistics service will continue to collect and update information on planted acreage in four major cotton producing states, including Texas, and may update its figures in time for the NASS Crop Production Report in August.
A breakdown of planted acres on a county-by-county basis was not immediately available.
And while wet, cool weather had a negative impact on the planted acres and early development of the crop, PCG said it has been quickly gaining ground in recent weeks.
“We all should be reminded that less acreage does not necessarily mean less production, and we’ve made some nice crops off of that much planted acreage,” Verett said. “Our infrastructure definitely can use a boost after the past four years, and we’re off to a relatively good start this year. If we can get a few more timely rainfall events and avoid severe weather and an early freeze, the potential is there for some good yields.”