Optimism Mixed For 2012 Cotton Outlook At Beltwide Conferences

A return to stronger cotton prices and rainfall in the Southwest will have the big say on U.S. cotton acreage in the new 2012 growing season across the Belt.

Published on: Jan 5, 2012

A resurgence of cotton popularity for the upcoming 2012 growing season largely will depend on the historic drought coming to an end in the Southwest, and cotton prices returning to more than $1 per pound. That was the word at the ongoing 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Orlando, Florida welcoming in the first week of the New Year.

Texas grows half of the cotton acreage in the U.S., and likely will grow a lot of cotton this year if rain returns. The state planted more than 7 million acres of cotton last year, but abandoned more than 4 million acres off the crop because of the historic drought.

Gaylon Morgan, Texas AgriLife Extension Service state cotton specialist, College Station, says he expects cotton acreage to level off in the state, but how much will make it to harvest will depend on rain returning to Texas. Mark Elliott, AgriLife Extension specialist, Lubbock, says without rainfall replenishing soil moisture, he expects some cotton with only limited irrigation water actually may be converted to dryland cotton.

Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University state cotton specialist, Altus, notes Oklahoma planted well over 400,000 acres in 2011. He expects that to drop to "maybe" 300,000 acres this year, following the worst drought and heat wave ever in Oklahoma.

Charlie Burmester, Auburn University, says he expects Alabama cotton acreage to stay stable this year. Louisiana is expected firm to a slight increase in cotton, while Arkansas should be level to down—depending on how soybeans stack up against cotton there.

Ricky Bearden, aPlains, Texas cotton grower, says he appreciates how the major seed companies supported producers during the 2011 historic drought, noting, "They realize we have to remain profitable."

J. Michael Quinn, Carolinas Cotton Growers Cooperative, Garner, North Carolina, said China has been a strong customer of U.S. cotton in recent weeks. Nevertheless, world carryover of cotton could reach 57 million bales at the end of this marketing year—and increase of 12 million bales. That could pressure prices. Also, any European recession would dampen textile consumption and affect cotton. The Euro versus the U.S. dollar is another factor—"Millions of dollars flow around the world with a click of the mouse."