Texas cotton acreage likely will slip significantly in 2013 as farmers try to capitalize on better pricing opportunities with grain.

The Texas Blacklands and the Upper Gulf Coast regions may see the biggest percentage of cotton acreage reduction, says Texas AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist Gaylon Morgan.

Morgan, in an interview during the recent Texas Plant Protection annual conference in Bryan, Texas, said the Rolling Plains and the Coastal Bend areas “may see less of a drop. The Valley could go either way, depending on the water situation. But a lot can happen between now and planting time.”

He said weather and price will be determining factors, but the Blacklands and the Gulf Coast, especially, “have good opportunities for grain crops, especially corn and grain sorghum. We’ve also seen more wheat planted in the Blacklands and the Rolling Plains,” he said.

“The High Plains cotton acreage will remain fairly stable,” Morgan said. “They follow a pretty steady routine — one year in and one year out, or continuous cotton. I don’t anticipate a big drop in cotton acreage in the High Plains. But a 10 percent reduction there amounts to substantial acreage.”

Morgan said some dryland cotton farmers may continue to plant cotton because insurance coverage is better than for other options. He said moisture will play a significant role, especially in areas such as the rolling Plains where farmers have already planted a lot of wheat and some may be considering grain sorghum.

But if conditions remain dry, cotton may be the best option. “Some dryland farmers could stay with cotton because of coverage,” he said. “That all could depend on moisture between now and planting time. But, cotton could be the best option for the bottom line.”

He said wheat is also vulnerable to drought stress, but that growers will need to decide whether to certify acreage soon if they anticipate planting another crop. “I don’t have a good feel for what wheat acreage will do,” he said. “The devil is in the details and I just don’t have the details yet.”

rsmith@farmpress.com