The U.S. cotton crop forecast for 2014 was raised sharply in July to 16.5 million bales and is projected nearly 3.6 million bales above 2013. Along with an increase in planted area reported in the June Acreage report, the cotton crop forecast was also supported by improved crop conditions. Favorable precipitation, particularly in the Southwest, reduced abandonment expectations. U.S. July abandonment and yield projections are based on 2012-13 averages, weighted by region. Projected abandonment in the Southwest was placed at the long-term average of 23 percent, compared with the 2012-13 average of 44 percent.
Based on the June Acreage report, U.S. cotton producers indicated that they had planted or intended to plant nearly 11.4 million acres to cotton in 2014, 2 percent above the March Prospective Plantings report and 9 percent above 2013. Harvested area is also expected above last season as the drought in the Southwest has eased with recent rainfall. Nationally, U.S. abandonment for 2014 is projected at 15 percent (1.67 million acres); the July projection places the 2014 abandonment rate near the 10-year average and at the lowest since 2010’s 2.5-percent rate (less than 300,000 acres).
Upland cotton area projections increased for three of the four Cotton Belt regions for 2014 as relatively higher cotton prices generally encouraged cotton plantings this spring; only the West region’s cotton area—which is relatively small—is projected lower in 2014. Area in the Southwest is reported at 6.7 million acres (12 percent higher); the previously mentioned precipitation has benefited the region which is expected to harvest its largest share of planted area in 4 years.
In the Southeast and Delta, cotton area is forecast at nearly 2.8 million acres (4 percent higher) and 1.5 million acres (18 percent higher), respectively. Upland cotton area in the West is expected to decline 20 percent from 2013—to a low of 235,000 acres—as limited irrigation supplies were expected to be used on tree crops. In addition, extra-long staple acreage—most of which is in the West—is projected to reach only 178,000 acres, 11 percent below 2013 and the lowest since 2009.
U.S. cotton crop development in 2014 is ahead of last season but below the 5-year average. As of July 13th, 70 percent of the crop was squaring, compared with 2013’s 66 percent and the 2009-13 average of 74 percent. Similarly, area setting bolls had reached 24 percent by July 13th, compared with 16 percent a year ago and the 5-year average of 25 percent. Due to the recent rainfall in the Southwest, early season U.S. cotton crop conditions are above the last several seasons. As of July 13th, 53 percent of the U.S. cotton area was rated “good” or “excellent,” compared with 42 percent a year earlier, while 14 percent was rated “poor” or “very poor,” compared with 26 percent in 2013.
The U.S. yield is currently forecast at 816 pounds per harvested acre, 5 pounds below last season and marginally below the previous 5-year average. In August, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will publish its first survey-based results for cotton production in 2014.