Cotton acreage is expected to decrease in Louisiana this year, mirroring a downward trend nationwide.
John Kruse, LSU AgCenter cotton specialist, said the decline can be partly explained by the sudden jump up in fertilizer prices, lower cotton prices and high soybean prices. “For the longest time this winter, I believed we would have the same amount of cotton acreage as last year.”
But now Kruse expects this year’s Louisiana crop will be around 230,000 to 240,000 acres, compared to 288,000 last year.
He said many farmers are likely to shift cotton acreage to soybeans, but some growers who belong to gin cooperatives have a strong incentive to plant a specified amount of acres in cotton.
Louisiana cotton growers can expect to receive 78 to 80 cents per pound of lint in the current market in contrast to a moment last year when the price spiked at $2.
Kruse said the cotton prices at harvest will be shaped somewhat by the size of the cotton crop in Texas, where approximately half of the U.S. crop is grown. Lone Star State cotton acres declined considerably last year because of the drought that reduced the amount of Texas cotton harvested.
“If Texas comes back with a big harvest, our supply will be up again.”
Another factor in the decline of cotton prices from last year is an increase in the world supply, which is related to the struggling global economy. Also, when manufacturers last year were unable to get an adequate supply of cotton at low prices, they turned to blends of cotton and synthetic material.
On the bright side, the 2012 planting season has shaped up well.
“We came into the season in real good shape with plenty of soil moisture,” said Kruse.
Farmers planted early and Kruse estimated that more than half of the state’s acreage has been planted. Earlier planting reduces the pressure from insects and drought.
Farmers face an additional challenge this year. The sale of the insecticide Temik has been halted by the manufacturer. The chemical was effective against several early-season insect pests such as thrips and nematodes.
Other chemicals are registered to replace Temik, but they lack a long-lasting effect or are more expensive, Kruse said. Many farmers had stockpiled a supply of the chemical, but most are now out of the insecticide.