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2007/08 forecast & caveats of cotton

Mar '07
Until USDA's Planted Acreage report this Friday, the new crop supply/demand expectations remained framed by USDA's forecasted U.S. carryover from 2006/07, and various 2007 acreage forecasts. The latter range from the low 12 million to low 13 million acre range. A lot depends on potential acreage shifts to feed grains and oilseeds, which will vary by region and from farm to farm.

While the simple budget/breakeven comparisons strongly favor the alternative crops, several factors will work against large scale switching out of cotton, especially in the Southwest. First, those with higher cotton yield expectations will likely be influenced by going with what they know. Second, corn plantings may be limited by unavailable planting seed, more costly hauling, and limited storage.

These issues do not affect soybeans as much, so $8+/bushel soybean prices may entice a lot of Mid South acres. Having said that, one major corn planting constraint in the Mid South and Southeast (wet weather) has apparently not been much of a problem, so we can expect maximum corn plantings in these regions (again, subject to available hauling, drying, and storage capacity).

While Texas is certainly seeing more wheat, sorghum, and corn on previous cotton acreage, I expect the go-with-what-you-know" factor will prevent a massive shift out of cotton in Texas. Those influences have played out in history before. The long-run average change in Texas all cotton planted acres from one year to the next (either up or down) is ten percent.

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