Texas Cotton ‘Actual’ Plantings Could Be Down a Little from Last Year

The Feb. 5 National Cotton Council’s 35th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey indicated Texas growers intended plantings to be up 5.6 percent over the actual plantings in 2015.

According to the survey, “Overall, Texas cotton acreage is expected to increase by 5.6 percent, with South Texas responsible for the statewide increase. The survey responses indicate that cotton growers expect to plant land that was idled in 2015 due to excessive moisture. Little change in acreage was indicated in the state’s other regions.”

For the U.S. total, the council’s survey suggests cotton plantings to be up 6.2 percent at 9.1 million acres, with some Southeastern regions seeing deep declines in planting intentions, while the Delta states are looking at eight to 40 percent increases. A summary of the survey results for all the U.S. can be found at

The survey showed Texas upland cotton intended plantings at a little more than 5 million acres, up from 2015 actual plantings of 4.8 million, a change of about 200,000 acres.

However, the survey bears some interpretation to get the accurate picture, said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state cotton specialist, College Station. There are some extreme changes predicted in cotton acres across the Cotton Belt.

“Based on predictions from last year at this time — 5.3 million expected planting acres — our acreage could actually be down a little bit compared to last year,” he said.

First, the survey is, in a way, comparing apples to oranges, or in this case, comparing intended plantings to actualities, Morgan said. Intended plantings in 2015 were 5.3 million acres. However, due to excessive moisture, more than 500,000 acres were not planted, in particular in the Rio Grande Valley, Coastal Bend, Upper Gulf Coast and definitely the northern High Plains.

From weekly reports by AgriLife Extension county agents across the cotton growing areas, there has been some indication that producers were considering planting less cotton this year because of low prices last year. Moreover, future contracts are suggesting prices will be about the same this year.

The problem is, Morgan said, prices of the usual alternatives to cotton in Texas — corn, wheat and sorghum — are down as well this year.

“We’re really looking at an acreage switch that is going to be minimal, overall a couple of hundred thousand acres,” he said. “Some might switch to sorghum – or maybe to wheat if they got it planted earlier; or, depending upon their irrigation capacity, to corn. But none of the commodity prices look that good, and producers are going to be faced with making some hard decisions to see what crops pencil out the best.”

Morgan said some Rio Grande Valley growers were planning to begin planting cotton this week.

“Part of that situation is they want to take advantage of their current soil moisture situation, which is good,” he said. “Last year, it was too wet to plant, which led to about 40 percent of the intended acres not getting planted. Some folks want to avoid the possibility of being in a similar situation. They also remember the string of years where they didn’t have enough soil moisture to plant. So they are pushing the planting envelope a bit.”

In the Blacklands and Central Texas, the usual planting dates starts about April 1 to May 1. In the High Plains, planting will start around May 15.

“So, despite good soil moisture now, additional rain will be needed to be able to establish the cotton crop,” Morgan said.

It’s a little too early to predict how cotton plantings will go this year, but conditions so far are much more favorable than in recent years, he said.

“However, we will need some in-season rain to obtain the yields necessary to make cotton profitable in 2016,” Morgan said.

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife

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