What is in this article?:
• Perhaps the most frustrating part of cotton production, moving toward the 2013 planting season, is the sense of frustration among growers.
• Other than weather factors, they seem to have more than adequate tools to manage weed resistance problems, diseases and other production challenges, yet marketing uncertainties beyond their control continue to force growers to reduce acreage.
TWO BALE PER ACRE cotton was the state average across the Southeast and Delta in 2012.
He says his commitment to long-term no-till probably kept his crop from suffering much damage from the unexpected weather pattern.
Cotton farmers in Mississippi harvested 460,000 acres of cotton and had a statewide average of almost 1,000 pounds of lint per acre.
Louisiana growers got the brunt of Hurricane Isaac and other tropical systems, but cotton yields didn’t suffer much from the inclement weather.
Producers in the state harvested 220,000 acres of cotton and averaged more than a thousand pound of lint per acre.
Tennessee and Missouri combined to harvest about 700,000 acres of cotton last year. Missouri had a state average just over 1,000 pounds per acre and Tennessee growers came in just below 1,000 pounds per acre.
The good news for cotton growers in the Southwest was that cotton in 2012 was less drought stressed than in 2011.
The bad news is the drought was still plenty bad, and it came with some other weather related calamities, primarily an Oct. 8, freeze that significantly hurt yields in West Texas.
In Oklahoma and Texas, growers were forced to abandon more than a million acres of cotton.
In Oklahoma, for example, cotton growers only harvested about half the acres they planted in the spring. As expected, yields were low on the remaining 175,000 acres, producing only 411 pounds per acre.
In Texas, by far the largest cotton producing state in the country, the news was only marginally better. There, growers harvested 4.9 million acres, but still managed to barely make a bale an acre, coming in with a statewide average of only 539 pounds per acre.
In the usually highly productive Rolling Hills and High Plains areas of Texas, 60-70 percent of planted acres was not harvested. These areas got the double punch of drought and the Oct. 8, freeze, which basically shut down production in those areas of the state.
In New Mexico virtually all the cotton is irrigated and the state missed some of the heat and drought problems and freeze problems of their neighbors to the east.
Growers in New Mexico produced yields in the two bale per acre range, but the small acreage there did little to bolster the overall production of what is the country’s largest cotton producing region.
Cotton production in desert areas out west is dramatically different from other parts of the Cotton Belt.
Over the past few years acreage has dwindled significantly, leaving the best cotton farmers to grow cotton on some of the best land in the region. The results are as expected, with three bale per acre cotton the norm for the two states and four and five bale per acre production not at all uncommon.
Growers in Arizona produced the highest statewide yields in the country in 2012, finishing up with 1,526 pounds of lint per acre on slightly more than 200,000 acres.
In California, cotton farmers harvested 365,000 acres of cotton with a statewide average of 1,418 pounds per acre.
Despite outstanding production in three of the country’s four cotton producing regions, experts contend acreage will decline again in 2013.
If estimates of 9.4 to 9.8 million acres for 2013 are accurate, cotton production will fall about a million acres this year, or about 10 percent from 2012 acreage.