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US Cotton Producers to Plant 11M Cotton Acres in 2017

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US cotton producers will be more ambitious with their cotton crops this year.

According to the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) 36th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey, U.S. cotton producers aim to plant 11 million cotton acres in 2017, 9.4% more than in 2016. Upland cotton intentions are 10.8 million acres, an 8.8% increase over last year, and extra-long staple (ELS) intentions are 266,000 acres and up 36.9% from 2016. The cotton acreage increase may be attributed to weaker prices of competing crops, improved expectations for water availability and an abundance of cotton yields in 2016.

“Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed,” NCC VP of economics and policy analysis Dr. Jody Campiche said. “Ultimately, weather, insect pressures and agronomic conditions play a significant role in determining crop size.”

Campiche said Cotton Belt harvested area totals 9.7 million acres in the U.S. An average U.S. yield per harvested acre of 830 pounds results in a cotton crop of 16 million upland bales and 760,000 ELS bales, totaling approximately 16.8 million bales for the nation.

The survey was mailed to U.S. producers in mid-December 2016 across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asking them about their current cotton acres and the cotton acres planned for the 2017 season. Responses were collected in mid-January and demonstrated that competing crops, including corn and soybean, caused cotton prices to drop last year.

“During the survey period, the cotton December futures contract averaged 70 cents per pound, which is higher than year-ago levels,” Campiche said. “Looking at competing crops, corn prices were lower than year-ago levels while soybean prices were about 12 percent higher. The price ratio of cotton to corn is more favorable than in 2016.”

Across states in the Southeast, results were mixed, with Alabama and Florida expanding their cotton acreage and Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia experiencing less cotton crops. Overall, Southeast growers indicated the regions’ upland area expanded to 2.2 million acres, up just 0.1% from 2016. Survey respondents from Alabama said cotton acreage increased by 14.2% compared to corn acreage, while Florida respondents indicated more cotton and less soybeans. Respondents from Georgia anticipated a 3.1% decline in cotton acreage with other crops, including peanuts. North Carolina respondents also indicated they are expecting a 4.8% decrease in cotton, due to acreage shifts in soybeans.

Mid-South growers have adjusted cotton acreage based on market signals, including the relative prices of competing crops and cotton. The region’s growers intend to plant 1.7 million acres, which was a 14.2% increase from last year. Mississippi experienced the largest cotton crop increase and state growers indicated 26.8% more cotton acreage this year. All other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee are expected to expand their soybean acreage in 2017.

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