Things just haven’t been rosy, price-wise, for cotton — the December futures contract lost 10 cents in a recent 12-day period, and was down 9 of 10 days.

And with rains that have measurably brightened the outlook for much of the cotton belt, heralding potential for a significantly larger than expected crop, things may get worse before they get better, says O.A. Cleveland, Jr., veteran cotton analyst and Extension economics professor emeritus at Mississippi State University.

“If I had to set a low for the December futures contract, I’d say 65 cents,” he said at the annual joint meeting of the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation and the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Cotton Policy Committee. “I’d see 62 cents as an absolute low.

“We had December cotton up to 86 cents, now we’re at 71 cents. I’m optimistic that we’ll stop price hemorrhaging at 68 cents to 70 cents, and I’d be extremely concerned now if we see 65-cent December futures. At 65 cents for December futures, Chinese textile mills can easily make money buying U.S. cotton. That should be all the market needs to stop the hemorrhaging.”

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Speculators, who have been long the last two years are backing out of the market, he says, and short-sellers will take their profits and move out.

“We will sell more cotton,” Cleveland says. “As the market moves lower, it will become extremely obvious that the Chinese will jump back in quickly and buy. They’ve been very price conscious during this price decline — we’ve not sold them much cotton.

“But there hasn’t been much of anyone’s cotton sold around the world. Textile mills have been operating hand-to-mouth as they watch the market fall. They’re not forward pricing; they’re watching to see what the market does.”

But, Cleveland says, a return to $1 cotton just isn’t in the cards.

“Even if there are crop troubles as the season goes on, or if West Texas should have rain problems at harvest, I think it would be difficult for the market to go beyond 73-74 cents, with an absolute top of 75 cents. I don’t see that — we’d have to get some horrible weather, and nobody’s going to be happy in that kind of scenario, because there won’t be much yield.”