Cotton buyers, shippers and warehouse managers attending the recent 88th annual meeting of the Atlantic Cotton Association were asked to estimate the high and low price of cotton over the 2011-2012 cotton production/marketing season.

Estimates were texted to Association President Robert Buckles during the meeting and generated a lively interaction. The end result should be good news for Southeastern cotton growers.

The average high price predicted by leaders of the Southeast cotton industry, based on mid-April conditions is $1.85 per pound. Perhaps more optimistic for growers, the average low prices, according to the group, will be 85 cents per pound. Privately, several voting members noted their price estimates were probably too conservative — on the low side.

Several speakers at the meeting shared optimism up and down the cotton industry.

Mike Hubbard, vice-president of the National Council of Textile Organizations reported to the group that the U.S. textile industry is alive and once again growing. Three new cotton mills began operation in 2010 and several others are in the planning stages, he says.

“Parkdale Mills hosted a group of Georgia cotton farmers recently at their newly refurbished mill in South Carolina. Waiting to go inside, some of the growers commented on how cotton mills hadn’t changed much over the years. When they got inside it was a whole different story. These new mills are high tech and ultra modern,” Hubbard says.

China gets most of the headlines for textile production, but there is real growth in the industry in Central America and 70-80 percent of the clothes made there are made from U.S.-grown cotton, he adds.

“When you look on the label and it says, ‘Made in Honduras’, that’s not a bad thing,” Hubbard contends. It’s made in America — central America and it’s a good bet it’s made from high quality North America cotton,” Hubbard says.