A recent USDA report estimates that U.S. cotton (upland) was only 17 percent contracted as of Nov. 1. In the Southeast, contracting was at 36 percent. I find this difficult to believe and understand given that 2013 crop futures spent a good portion of time around the mid-80s or better and even made 3 charges to the 87-cent area and better.

I know a lot of cotton traditionally goes through the Loan, but when using the Loan, your outcome is determined only by prices after harvest — you’ve cut your marketing window in half and already forgone any pre-harvest pricing opportunities.

Dec14 futures are currently around 76 to 77 cents. This will not attract 2014 acreage. 2014 prices for other crops like corn and soybeans are also down from 2013 levels. However, 2014 may be shaping up to be a year when all prices are down from previous year levels. We haven’t experienced that in a while.

With the massive level of stocks worldwide and in China, there’s a question of just how much acreage and production needs to be bid-in in 2014. This is where China’s stocks policy and how that impacts their need for imports continues to come in to play.

Prices for the 2013 cotton crop (Dec13 futures) were at this same level last year this time. The potential for improved prices for Dec14 are possible but the likely range is 75 to 85 cents. I doubt many growers will decide to do any 2014 crop marketing until if and when they get an opportunity in the 80s.