Western producers to best weather challenging cotton crop year

Western cotton growers will likely see the best yields across the nation’s Cotton Belt this year, according to Gary Adams, vice-president of economic and policy analysis for the National Cotton Council.

“It looks like Arizona and California will be one of the brighter spots across the Cotton Belt. That is all irrigated cotton,” said Adams. “There were concerns about how hot summer temperatures might impact Upland cotton in the West. Indications are that Upland came out in good shape.”

Meanwhile, Adams referred to yields in the South Texas dryland cotton-growing region as a disaster, where drought-caused low yields have led to abandoned acres. In the mid-South, some of the early cotton is producing one bale per acre - land that last year yielded two bales per acre.

While national cotton crop yields will be lower, Adams said the real question is how much smaller. He believes this year’s production will average between 19-20.4 million-bales.

Besides reduced production, another reality emptying growers’ pocketbooks has been increasing energy costs. Diesel fuel costs associated with planting, harvest, and transportation are negatively impacting the industry. Higher energy costs will also boost ginning expenses.

Yet he sees cotton prices with a ray of hope. “As we look at the longer term, there are a lot of factors that are supportive to prices as we look at expected consumption this year being larger than expected production on a global basis,” he said.

China will likely continue to import the most U.S. cotton. “While China’s textile industry is growing, the country’s domestic retail consumption is growing as well,” he noted. Pakistan will remain another good U.S. cotton customer, while India has emerged as a competitor. “India looks like they’ll have a larger crop than last year so they have emerged as a competitor to U.S. cotton.”

Adams was a speaker at the Sept. 8 annual meeting of the Cotton Board in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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