Going into January, U.S. cotton producers told the National Cotton Council they intend to plant 11.26 million acres of cotton in 2014 or 8.2 percent more than in 2013.

Of those, 11.04 million would be upland cotton and 225,000 would be extra long staple, the NCC announced during the Economic Outlook session at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., this morning (Feb. 8).

“Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed. Ultimately, weather, insect pressures, and agronomic conditions play a significant role in determining crop size,” Dr. Gary Adams, the NCC’s vice president Economics & Policy Analysis, said.

With expected abandonment for the United States at roughly 15 percent, Cotton Belt harvested area for 2014 would total 9.59 million acres. Weighting individual state yields by 2014 area generates a U.S. average yield per harvested acre of 819 pounds.

Applying each state’s yield to its 2014 projected harvested acres generates a cotton crop of 16.37 million bales, with 15.72 million bales of upland and 657,000 bales of ELS. If realized, that would be an increase of 3.2 million bales from the current USDA estimate of the 2013 crop.

The NCC questionnaire, mailed in mid-December 2013 to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asked producers for the number of acres devoted to cotton and other crops in 2013 and the acres planned for the coming season. Survey responses were collected through mid-January.

Adams noted, “History has shown that U.S. farmers respond to relative prices when making planting decisions. Coming off of last year’s 10.4 million acres of all cotton, the survey suggests that growers are again responding to relative prices by increasing the intended plantings by 8 percent, bringing total U.S. area to just shy of 11.3 million acres. However, as the state-level results will show, the increase is not universal across the states and production regions.”

Survey respondents throughout the Southeast indicated a 1.2 percent decline, lowering the regional total to 2.63 million acres. Alabama, Georgia and Virginia intend to increase cotton acres, while growers in Florida and the Carolinas indicate declines. In Alabama and Virginia, the increase in cotton acres is coming at the expense of corn. For states reporting declines in cotton area, respondents in the Carolinas indicated a shift into soybeans, while Florida’s cotton acreage is moving into peanuts.

In the Mid-South, survey results show that growers intend to plant 1.39 million acres, an increase of 12.5 percent. With the exception of Arkansas, all states indicate more cotton acres relative to 2013, with the largest percentage increase in Mississippi. In Arkansas, survey respondents indicated a 4.6 percent decline in cotton area was due to an expected increase in acres devoted to soybeans. Responses for Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee indicated an increase in cotton acres coming at the expense of corn.

Southwest growers indicated a 12 percent increase, bringing the regional total to 6.74 million acres. In general, respondents indicated a shift out of grain and into cotton. For some respondents, improved moisture also is allowing some acres to be planted in 2014 that were left idle in 2013.

West region results were mixed as Arizona and New Mexico growers intend to plant more cotton acres in 2014, while California will decrease upland cotton acres. For the region as a whole, the survey reports 2014 upland area of 275,000 acres, down roughly 6 percent from 2013. In California, water availability and competition from other crops are limiting upland acres. Regarding ELS cotton, the survey suggests that some of the California acres will move out of upland into ELS. The survey results indicate that U.S. cotton growers intend to increase ELS plantings 12 percent to 225,000 acres in 2014. This increase also is consistent with Pima prices being above year-ago levels. 

NCC delegates were reminded that these expectations are a snapshot of intentions based on market conditions at survey time. Actual plantings will be influenced by changing market conditions and weather.