Chances are good there will be plenty of cotton in the Upper Southeast this year. With a record crop planted and only a few timely showers needed to finish the crop, cotton could be more than plentiful in the region.

Ginners across the Upper Southeast say they are ready for the increased volume and proud to have the extra business. Growers and ginners are two steps in the cotton chain that will eventually take most of the big cotton crop to a foreign textile mill.

Finding a place to store and efficiently transport cotton bales to waiting ships bound for overseas ports may not be as easy this year as it has been in recent years and likely not as economical for growers and ginners.

A hallmark of U.S. cotton is that it is high quality when it arrives at foreign mills and it arrives on time and in the quantity desired by the foreign buyer. Clearly, keeping foreign buyers, or end-users, happy is critical to long-term profitability of the U.S. cotton industry.

Getting such a big crop, one of the biggest on record in the Upper Southeast, from the field, through the gin, safely stored, sold and delivered to the end-user is going to be a challenge for the 2011 crop.

Over the past few years, the volume of cotton in the Upper Southeast has been on a downward trend. This reduction was in large part due to reduced acreage, but also because of weather-related yield reductions.

Finding a warehouse to store cotton hasn’t been a problem in recent years. Finding a ‘good’ warehouse to store cotton has been a problem from time to time and could be a big problem for the 2011 crop.

For U.S. cotton growers, ginners and buyers, a good cotton warehouse is one that gets cotton in and stored in a timely manner from the gin and gets it out of the warehouse on a truck and to the shipyard when the buyer wants it there.

The same criteria don’t necessarily apply when it comes to owners and investors in cotton warehouses.