By Chuck Danehower
The National Cotton Council released their annual producer cotton planting intentions survey today with cotton producers suggesting that they will plant 13.63 million acres in 2012, down 1.1 million acres or 7.5% from 2011. This is slightly higher than the 13.5 million acres number that has been bantered around. The breakdown is 13.34 million acres of upland cotton (down 7.5% from 2011) and 287,000 acres of extra-long stable (down 6.4% from 2011).
Assuming above-average abandonment in Texas and Oklahoma (drought conditions still exist) and historical averages in all other states, total acres harvested would be 10.88 million acres. That is based on an abandonment percentage of 20.3%. This would generate a cotton crop of 18.3 million bales using a national yield of 807 pounds per .acre based on individual state level yield assumptions and compares to 2011 production of 15.67 million bales. With drought condition in Texas and the Southeast, I think on the low side it would be reasonable to suggest that abandonment could reach last year's 33.8% and yields nationwide at 772 lbs. per acre. This would produce a crop of 14.5 million bales on 9.02 million acres. On the other side, 19.2 million acres would be produced at the five year average abandonment percent of 16.5% on 11.38 million acres at the five year national average yield of 811 pounds per acre.
Using the average assumption of 18.3 million acres would most likely build U.S. cotton stocks under current economic conditions and would see lower prices. World stocks, however, could impact prices as much as U.S. stocks and acreage is expected to be lower with China expecting a 9.5% – 10% decrease.
The National Cotton Council survey was mailed to producers in mid-December 2011 to producers across the 17 state Cotton Belt and was collected through mid-January. USDA will release their prospective planting report on March 31.
Danehower is a University of Tennessee Extension farm management area specialist and a regular contributor to the Mid-South Farmer. Follow him on Twitter.