The Southeast cotton producing region not only picked a big crop in 2012, they also produced a high quality one, according to the latest classing data from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Meanwhile the Mid-South crop took a big hit from high micronaire.

As of January 9, AMS had classed 14.9 million bales of upland cotton, with about 800,000 bales to go, mostly in the Southeast and Arizona. Around 600,000 bales of Pima had been classed by Jan. 9, with another 125,000 bales to go.

According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Southeast produced an estimated 5.535 million bales of cotton in 2012. “It looks like we’re going to be classing cotton in the Southeast until mid-February,” said Robbie Seals, with AMS in Memphis, speaking at the 2013 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, in San Antonio.

“We are still running multiple shifts there. They’ve made a heck of a crop, and it’s one of the better quality crops that they’ve made.”

Every Southeast state increased cotton yield over the previous year, according to USDA’s crop production estimates. Seals noted that the Southeast has moved ahead of Texas for the last two years in percentage of the U.S. crop produced.

Nationwide, the 2012 cotton crop “was one of the highest in terms of color grade we’ve seen in the last five years,” Seals said. “We saw a big improvement in the Southeast, while the Mid-South dropped off just a little bit.

“The average leaf grade was up slightly from the previous year (moving from 3.0 to 3.1). We saw a little more leaf in the Southeast and Mid-South. The Mid-South started out with considerably higher leaf, (5-leaf and 6-leaf) but it got better as we went along.”

Extraneous matter, primarily bark, has been on the rise in the Southeast and the Mid-South, according to Seals. “In the Southeast, extraneous matter at the Macon and Florence classing offices was 18 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Normally we would see these higher numbers when we have a lot of freezing and bad weather.”