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Cotton area projected lower in 2009
21
Apr '09
U.S. cotton acreage in 2009 is expected to decline for the third consecutive season. Based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Prospective Plantings report that surveyed farmers at the beginning of March, producers intend to plant only 8.8 million acres to cotton in 2009. This initial area projection is nearly 700,000 acres (7 percent) below 2008 plantings and the lowest cotton area since 1983, when government programs reduced acreage to 7.9 million acres.

Upland cotton plantings are estimated at nearly 8.7 million acres—also the smallest since 1983—while extra-long staple (ELS) cotton area is expected to fall to 143,500 acres, the lowest since 1987. These projections will be updated at the end of June in USDA's Acreage report. As of April 5th, cotton plantings are just underway with 4 percent of the expected area planted to date.

According to Prospective Plantings, U.S. upland cotton area is forecast to fall to nearly half the level of the recent high of 16.7 million acres in 1995. Although U.S. upland area is expected to decline in each region in 2009, the majority of the decrease is coming from the middle of the Cotton Belt as the Southwest and Delta regions combine for a 500,000-acre decline or more than 80 percent of the expected upland cotton area reduction in 2009.

Upland cotton acreage in the Southwest is projected at 4.9 million acres in 2009, 6 percent below 2008 and the lowest in 26 years. Despite this, there are few alternatives to cotton in this region—particularly with current drought conditions—and the Southwest share of upland cotton acreage is estimated to rise to nearly 57 percent, the highest since the early 1980s. In contrast, the Delta's share of the upland area is expected at less than 20 percent, the smallest in 3 decades. In the Delta, cotton acreage is initially projected at 1.7 million acres, 11 percent below 2008 and the lowest on record.

Only slight declines in acreage are expected for the Southeast and West regions in 2009. Upland cotton area in the Southeast is forecast at about 1.9 million acres, the lowest since 1993 while the West is projected to plant less than 250,000 acres, the lowest since 1922. Although the Southeast continues to account for roughly 22 percent of the total upland area in 2009, the West region is expected to contribute less than 3 percent, half the level of just five years ago.

United States Department of Agriculture

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