As of Jan. 9, 47 percent of the Mid-South crop had been classed with high micronaire (5.0 or higher). “Micronaire came down a little bit in the Southeast and Southwest, and came up a little in the West,” Seals said.

For the third year in a row, the average strength of the U.S. crop was 30 grams per Tex. Since high volume instrument classing was implemented, the average strength of the U.S. crop has steadily improved from 26 grams per Tex to current levels. Average strength for the Southeast was 29 and the Mid-South, 30, according to Seals.

The U.S. crop averaged 35.7 in length, with the Southeast average increasing to 36. Seals noted that the average staple in Texas moved past the national average in 2005, “but over the last two years, as they’ve been plagued with dry weather, it’s moved back below the U.S. average.”

High micronaire resulted in the Mid-South’s percentage of cotton at base quality or higher dropping below 30 percent, “one of the lowest percentages we’ve seen since we’ve been tracking the base quality,” Seals said.

The percentage of the crop at high quality and higher, which is 31-3-35 (color-leaf-staple) with no extraneous matter, “was one of the highest percentages we’ve seen in the Southeast,” Seals said.

“It’s about 36 percent for Alabama and Georgia and 27 percent for North Carolina and South Carolina.”

Arkansas and Missouri jumped up in the latter category last year, “but came back down this year, again due to issues with micronaire.” Both states had over 50 percent of their crops discounted for micronaire in 2012.

According to AMS, 98.7 percent of the U.S. Pima crop was at Grade 3 (color, 3 and leaf, 3). Micronaire had fallen for Pima over the last couple of years, but has returned to around 4.0, according to Seals. “Staple was little shorter this year, but strength was the highest we’ve ever had.”

All 10 classing offices were operating in 2012-13. In 2010-11, the Lamesa, Texas, classing office was shut down, and its cotton classed in Lubbock.