Cotton prices right now are the highest in history. Prices for other Georgia-grown row crops are riding high, too. And the ride could last well into next year, say University of Georgia farm economists.

Cotton prices for the 2010 crop are currently around $1.20 per pound, the highest ever in 134 years of records, said Don Shurley, a UGA Cooperative Extension cotton economist.

Commodity economics can be complicated. But the simple reasons why cotton prices skyrocketed are because:

• World cotton acreage decreased over the last three years, reducing production.

• There is uncertainty in the status of the 2010 crops in China, India and Pakistan.

• Economic recovery has increased global demand for cotton-made items.

“The demand side is growing very well, and the supply side has yet to catch up with it. So, that really set the stage for higher prices, the supply-and-demand situation that has developed over the last several years,” Shurley said.

Cotton harvest started several weeks ago in Georgia and will end later this fall. But most farmers won’t get the record prices for this year’s crop, he said. Current prices are what farmers could get if they sold their cotton now. Farmers typically contract cotton in the winter or spring before the crop is planted. At that time this year, prices were 40 cents to 45 cents per pound lower than they are now.

“We can talk about a $1 (per pound) cotton, but it’s a moot point really as far as most producers are concerned because they’ve already sold their crop,” he said.

Cotton prices will likely go down for next year’s crop. But a pound of cotton should still sell for 85 cents to 90 cents, he said. These are still good prices.