With over 6 million bales classed as of Nov. 10, the 2005 Mid-South cotton crop is brighter and shorter than the 2004 crop. These characteristics are likely the result of a dry summer that impacted fiber development and a long, dry fall that preserved color. While color grades are higher than last year, there were reports of higher leaf content in the 2005 crop.

Of 2 million bales classed at the Memphis classing office as of Nov. 10, only 18 percent had a staple length of 36 or higher, compared to 24.6 percent last year. The average staple for the region for 2005 is 34.6, compared to 34.7 in 2004.

On the other hand, 56 percent of the cotton classed in Memphis had a color grade of 31 or higher, compared to 45 percent in 2004.

Of a little over 1 million bales classed at the Rayville, La., classing office, 15 percent had a staple length of 36 or better, compared to 45.3 percent in 2004. As of Nov. 10, the average staple length at the Rayville office was 34.4 compared to 35.4 in 2004.

A surprising 77 percent of cotton graded at Rayville had a color grade of 31 or higher compared to 45 percent in 2004.

With over 2 million bales classed at the Dumas, Ark., classing office, 19 percent had a staple length of 36 or better, compared to 47.7 percent in 2004. As of Nov. 10, the average staple length at the Dumas office was 34.7 percent compared to 35.4 percent in 2004. Sixty-one percent of the 2005 cotton crop had a color grade of 31 or higher, compared to 60.1 percent in 2004.

According to USDA’s November crop production report, every Mid-South state except Louisiana — which bumped its estimated average yield from 867 pounds to 928 pounds — is expected to have lower average yields in 2005 compared to last year’s record-breaking crop. Average yield in Arkansas dropped from 1,114 pounds in 2004 to 1,015 pounds in 2005; Mississippi average yields declined from 1,024 pounds to 854 pounds; Missouri, from 1,054 pounds to 960 pounds; and Tennessee, from 900 pounds to 862 pounds.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com