USDA forecasts cotton production at 13 million bales
USDA's October Crop Production report indicated that the 2009 U.S. cotton crop would total 13 million bales, 440,000 bales (3 percent) below the September forecast but nearly 200,000 bales above 2008/09. Upland production—expected to reach 12.6 million bales this season—accounted for the decline, as the extra-long staple (ELS) crop was not updated in October by USDA and is estimated at 367,000 bales, 15 percent below 2008/09.
During the past 20 years, the October forecast has been below final cotton production 15 times while above it only 5 times. However, the effect of this season's wet harvest weather could mean that the October 2009 forecast will be above this season's final estimate. In any case, past differences between the October forecast and final cotton production indicate that chances are two out of three for the 2009 U.S. cotton crop to range between 12.4 and 13.6 million bales.
For 2009, regional upland cotton production is forecast to vary from last season and the 5-year average (fig. 2). Compared with last year's final production, the October 2009 U.S. upland crop estimates are higher in the Southwest and Southeast while lower in the Delta and West regions.
In the Southwest, upland production is now forecast at nearly 5.4 million bales, as larger harvested area and a similar yield, compared with 2008, pushed the upland crop 13 percent higher. For the Southeast, the cotton crop is forecast at nearly 3.4 million bales, 2 percent above 2008 and boosted by a record yield of 868 pounds per harvested acre.
On the other hand, area reductions in the Delta and West regions have reduced the 2009 crop compared with last season and the average. For the Delta, record-low area has limited the production potential this season, with the latest estimate placed at about 3.2 million bales. Despite the Delta's 2009 yield being the second highest, the crop is 9 percent lower than 2008 and the lowest since 1986. In the West region, upland cotton area continues to trend lower. Upland production in 2009 is forecast at about 700,000 bales, less than half the average over the last 5 years and the lowest since 1945.
Although total cotton harvested area—estimated at 7.7 million acres in 2009—is slightly above that of 2008, the move to alternative crops in 2009 has resulted in this season's cotton acreage being the third lowest in over a century. U.S. abandonment is estimated at 15 percent in 2009, below last season but still one of the highest rates over the last decade.
The U.S. cotton yield is forecast at 807 pounds per harvested acre this season, 31 pounds below the 5-year average. As of October 4th, only 10 percent of the U.S. cotton area had been harvested, compared with 15 percent in 2008 and a 5-year average of 21 percent. Most States are well below their historical averages with the exception of South Carolina and Arizona where harvest progress is at or above their respective 5-year averages.
Meanwhile, overall crop conditions are similar to a year ago. As of October 4th, 47 percent of the crop was in “good” or “excellent” condition, compared with 50 percent in 2008. Similarly, 23 percent was rated “poor” or “very poor” this year, compared with 20 percent a year ago.
United States Department of Agriculture