It looks like 2013’s wild ride has begun.

Dec13 futures continue to trend up and dare to reach 85 cents. Dec13 closed at just under 83 cents on Friday (Feb. 8). Prices gained about a cent and a half for the week.

Somewhat surprisingly, however, the market is flat to down slightly this morning despite Saturday’s low acreage estimate by the National Cotton Council.

(To see results of the NCC survey, go to Grower survey shows 9.01 million cotton acres in 2013).

Most estimates have placed 2013 U.S. acreage in the 9.7 to 10.3 range. The NCC survey estimate is 9.015 million acres. If realized, this would be 27 percent less than last year and fewer acres than in 2009 when acreage dipped to 9.15 million, due to higher prospective net returns from corn and soybeans.

The NCC survey was conducted from Dec. 18 to Jan. 23. Some observers point out that responses were before the most recent price increases. That’s not entirely true, but the survey was, in fact, done before Dec13 broke above 80 cents.

I think 80 to 85 cents is the magic number many growers are looking for. Also, while cotton has trended up since mid-December, corn has moved lower and soybeans have been up and down but, on average, unchanged.

So, there’s a reasonable chance the NCC estimate is on the low side but really, it all depends on weather and what prices do over the next 2-3 months — not by what has happened and where we are now.

I do think the Georgia number is too low. If our cotton acreage were to drop to 1.09 million acres (the NCC estimate), then given what we know is going to be a sharp reduction in peanut acreage, that would mean a shift to corn and soybeans of much more than anyone already thinks possible or even feasible.

Perhaps offsetting the NCC lower-than-expected acreage number, Friday’s monthly USDA supply/demand numbers were a mixed bag.

U.S. exports for the 2012 crop were raised 300,000 bales. China imports were raised 150,000 bales. But World Ending Stocks were raised slightly and China stocks raised by a whopping million bales.

Now even more than before, prices will depend on China’s stock policy and import decisions.