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2008/09 cotton crop forecast slightly higher in September
Sep '08
According to USDA's September Crop Production report, the 2008 U.S. cotton crop is projected at 13.85 million bales, up slightly from last month's forecast but still the lowest in nearly two decades.

Upland production is projected at 13.4 million bales, 5 million below last season, while the extra-long staple (ELS) crop is estimated at 459,000 bales, 46 percent below 2007/08. While the full impact of Hurricane Gustav is not included in this projection due to its timing, it will be incorporated into next month's forecast.

During the previous 20 years, the September forecast has been above final cotton production 8 times and below 12 times. Past differences between the September forecast and the final production estimate indicate that chances are two out of three that the 2008 U.S. cotton crop will range between 12.9 and 14.8 million bales.

Compared with last season, upland production is expected to be lower in each region of the Cotton Belt. In the Southwest, where planted area accounted for more than half of the U.S. cotton plantings in 2008, upland production is forecast at 5.6 million bales, 3 million below last season and the smallest in 5 years. The crop decline is largely attributable to the rise in abandonment, which increased from 4 percent in 2007 to an estimated 30 percent for this season.

The Delta region's crop is forecast at only 3.8 million bales in 2008, the lowest since 1986 as area dropped to its smallest since 1983. The regional yield has remained strong, however, and, at 979 pounds per harvested acre, this season's yield would be the second highest on record.

The Southeast is expected to experience the smallest crop decrease this season, although production is at its lowest since 1993. While area there is also the lowest in 15 years, the third highest yield kept production in the region near that of last season.

In the West, upland area and production continue to decrease. The 2008 crop forecast is currently projected at 840,000 bales, less than half the level of just three years ago. However, the third highest yield on record, at 1,445 pounds per harvested acre, is keeping production from falling faster.

In contrast, the West continues to dominate ELS production. California, in particular, accounts for about 90 percent of the ELS area and crop in 2008; California reduced planted area by 40 percent due to competition from alternative crops and water restrictions.

Total area planted to cotton is estimated at 9.4 million acres, with harvested area projected at 7.8 million acres, both the lowest in 25 years. Abandonment, estimated at about 17 percent, is well above last season but similar to 2006. The national yield is currently projected at 849 pounds per harvested acre, 30 pounds below the 2007 record but still the third highest.

Cotton Council International

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