The National Cotton Council says U.S. cotton producers could plant as many as 13.63 million acres of upland and extra long staple (ELS) cotton in 2012.

The 13.63-million-acre total, the amount growers responding to the NCC’s 29th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey said they intend to devote to cotton, would be down 7.5 percent from 2011 planted acreage.

Farmers indicated upland cotton planting intentions of 13.34 million acres, down 7.5 percent from 2011, while ELS intentions of 287,000 acres represent a 6.4 percent decline. The survey results were announced at the NCC’s 2012 annual meeting in Fort Worth.

With assumed above-average abandonment in Texas and Oklahoma and all other states set at historical averages, total upland and ELS harvested area would be 10.88 million acres, 20.3 percent below planted area. Applying state-level yield assumptions to projected harvested acres generates a cotton crop of 18.30 million bales, vs. 2011’s production of 15.67 million bales.

“Final production will be very dependent on weather developments, particularly in the southwestern U.S,” said Gary Adams, NCC vice-president for economics and policy analysis. “If conditions worsen, we could see the U.S. crop be 2 million bales lower than early-season expectations.”

The NCC survey, mailed in mid-December 2011 to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asked for their intended 2012 cotton acreage as well as for their intended plantings of other crops in 2012. Survey responses were collected through mid-January.

“The expected drop in cotton area is consistent with current market signals,” Adams noted. “Since 2011, cotton prices have weakened relative to competing crop such as corn, soybeans and peanuts.”


Survey respondents throughout the Southeast indicated a decline in acreage in all states. In percentage terms, the largest declines are expected to be seen in Alabama and Virginia down 17.6 percent and 16.0 percent, respectively.

In Alabama, cotton acres are shifting to corn, soybeans and peanuts. In Virginia, cotton acres are shifting into soybeans. Georgia’s expected acreage is off 12.7 percent as corn and peanuts are the beneficiaries of the reduced cotton acreage.