NCC Survey Suggests U.S. Producers to Plant 14.76 Million Acres of Upland and ELS Cotton in 2004

NCC's annual planting intentions survey suggests U.S. producers will plant 14.76 million acres of upland and extra long staple cotton in 2004.

January 30, 2004
Contact: Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

NEW ORLEANS, LA – U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 14.76 million acres of cotton this spring, up 9.5 percent from 2003, according to the National Cotton Council’s 21ST Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey.

Upland cotton intentions are 14.55 million acres, an increase of 9.3 percent from 2003 plantings of 13.30 million acres. Extra long staple (ELS) intentions of 212,000 acres represent an 18.6 percent increase from 2003.

The results were announced at the NCC’s 65th Annual Meeting, which began today in New Orleans, LA.

With average abandonment, total upland and ELS harvested area would be about 12.94 million acres.

Applying each state’s trend yield to its 2004 projected harvested acres generates a crop of 18.50 million bales, 17.93 million bales of upland cotton and 561,000 bales of ELS cotton. This compares to 2003’s total production of 18.22 million bales, according to USDA’s January 2004 estimate. Cottonseed production for 2004 is projected at 6.78 million tons, up from 6.69 million last year.

The NCC survey was mailed in mid-December of 2003 to about one-third of the cotton producers across the U.S. Surveys had to be returned by mid-January.

Dr. Gary Adams, the NCC’s vice president of economics and policy analysis, said as growers consider their 2004 planting decisions, they are comparing prices for cotton, corn and soybeans that are substantially higher than the loan value.

“In fact, as growers enter the coming season, prices are at their highest levels since the beginning of the 1998 planting time,” Adams noted. “Final acreage decisions will be based on expected returns of cotton and competing crops, but also must take into account agronomic considerations such as crop rotation.”

Based on survey results, the Southwest and Mid-South regions of the Cotton Belt show the largest increases with upland cotton plantings up 12.8 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively, with 2.1 percent and 7.0 percent increases indicated for the Southeast and Far West, respectively.

One reason for the small increase in the Southeast in 2004 is because Georgia growers indicate a reduction of 6.1 percent to 1.22 million acres with intentions to shift acreage from cotton and into soybeans and other crops, most likely peanuts.

The combination of higher prices and favorable yields appear to be the factors leading to the Mid-South’s increased upland area. The survey shows cotton plantings will expand partially at the expense of corn.

In the Southwest, the survey indicated Texas growers intend to plant 6.32 million acres, an increase of 12.9 percent from 2003. This is an outcome that stands in stark contrast to the survey results for Oklahoma, where growers are suggesting a decline in acreage of 6.1 percent, which would be their fourth straight annual decline.

Out West, Adams said that growers in Arizona intend to increase upland area by 12.9 percent to 243,000 acres while a 31.5 percent increase to 74,000 acres is indicated for New Mexico.

“For Arizona, the recovery in acreage would still be well short of acreage levels observed in 2000 and 2001, while New Mexico would recover to levels comparable to those years,” he noted.