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Source: National Cotton Council news release

U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 14.5 million cotton acres this spring, up 2.9 percent from 2018 (based on USDA's December 2018 estimate), according to the National Cotton Council's 38th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey.

Upland cotton intentions are 14.2 million acres, up 2.8 percent from 2018, while extra-long staple (ELS) intentions of 264,000 acres represent a 6.3 percent increase. The survey results were announced today at the NCC's 2019 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Jody Campiche, the NCC's vice president, Economics & Policy Analysis, said, "Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed. Ultimately, weather, insect pressures and agronomic conditions play a significant role in determining crop size."

She said that with abandonment assumed at approximately 10 percent for the United States, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 13.0 million acres. Using an average U.S. yield per harvested acre of 840 pounds generates a cotton crop of 22.7 million bales, with 21.9 million upland bales and 782,000 ELS bales.

The NCC questionnaire, mailed in mid-December 2018 to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asked producers for the number of acres devoted to cotton and other crops in 2018 and the acres planned for the coming season. Survey responses were collected through mid-January.

Campiche noted, "History has shown that U.S. farmers respond to relative prices when making planting decisions. The cotton-to-corn price ratio is lower than in 2018 due to higher corn prices as compared to last year. The cotton-to-soybean price ratio is higher than in 2018 due to lower soybean prices. A price ratio increase generally indicates an increase in cotton acreage.

"For the 2019 crop year, many producers have indicated a desire to reduce soybean acres due to low returns in 2018. As a result, corn is expected to provide the strongest competition for cotton acres in 2019."

Southeast respondents indicate a 2.6 percent increase in the region's upland area to 2.8 million acres. All states except North Carolina and Virginia show a decline in acreage. In Alabama, the survey responses indicate 0.6 percent less cotton acreage as well as a reduction in corn, wheat, soybeans, and 'other crops'. In Florida, respondents indicated less cotton 'other crops', likely peanuts. In Georgia, cotton acreage is expected to decline by 3.6 percent. Georgia growers expect to plant more corn and 'other crops', likely peanuts. In North Carolina, a 0.1 percent increase is expected. Acreage of corn and 'other crops' is expected to increase in North Carolina, while soybean and wheat acreage is expected to decline. In South Carolina, cotton acreage is expected to decline by 5.4 percent, while corn and soybean acreage is expected to increase. Cotton acreage is expected to increase by 3.5 percent in Virginia as acreage moves away from soybeans and 'other crops'.

In the Mid-South, growers have demonstrated their ability to adjust acreage based on market signals. The relative prices and potential returns of competing crops play a significant role in cotton acreage. Mid-South growers intend to plant 2.3 million acres, an increase of 13.6 percent from the previous year as some land is shifted away from soybeans. Across the region, all states intend to increase cotton acreage. Arkansas producers intend to plant 14.4 percent more cotton acreage and reduce soybeans and 'other crops'. They also expect to increase corn acreage.

The largest percentage increase was reported by Louisiana producers who expect to plant 22.2 percent more cotton acreage in 2019 and less corn and soybeans. In Mississippi, cotton acreage is expected to increase by 18.4 percent and plant less soybeans and 'other crops'. Missouri growers expect to increase cotton acres by 6.9 percent and plant less soybeans. In Tennessee, cotton acreage is expected to increase by 5.9 percent as land shifts away from soybeans and wheat. All states in the Mid-South expect to plant less soybeans in 2019.

Southwest growers intend to plant 8.8 million cotton acres, a 2.2 percent increase. Increases in cotton area are expected in each of the region's three states. In Kansas, producers intend to plant 3.4 percent more cotton acres along with more wheat and less 'other crops', likely sorghum. In Oklahoma, a 1.0 percent increase in cotton acreage is expected. Oklahoma growers also plan to increase acreage of wheat and 'other crops'. Texas acreage is expected to increase by 2.3 percent.

Far West producers are expecting to plant 86,000 upland cotton acres - a 2.9 percent increase from 2018. Cotton acreage is expected to increase in Arizona and California and decrease in New Mexico. Results for Arizona suggest a 1.0 percent increase in upland cotton acres and a decrease in all other crops. In California, growers intend to plant 14.4 percent more upland cotton acres and more ELS cotton and wheat.

Many producers will continue to face difficult economic conditions in 2019. Production costs remain high, and unless producers have good yields, current prices may not be enough to cover all production expenses. Despite these challenges, cotton is still the better alternative for many growers. Based on current prices, projected cotton returns are currently more favorable than some competing commodities. Improved seed varieties continue to increase yield potential and improve cotton's profitability. In the West, expected water availability may be influencing cotton acreage decisions.

NCC delegates were reminded the expectations are a snapshot of intentions based on market conditions at survey time with actual plantings influenced by changing market conditions/weather.

Prospective 2019 U.S. Cotton Area
2018 Actual (Thou.) 1/ ... 2019 Intended (Thou.) 2/ ... Percent Change

SOUTHEAST ... 2,886 ... 2,812 ... -2.6%

Alabama ... 510 ... 507 ... -0.6%
Florida ... 118 ... 111 ... -6.1%
Georgia ... 1,430 ... 1,379 ... -3.6%
North Carolina ... 430 ... 430 ... 0.1%
South Carolina ... 300 ... 284 ... -5.4%
Virginia ... 98 ... 101 ... 3.5%

MID-SOUTH ... 1,985 ... 2,256 ... 13.6%
Arkansas ... 485 ... 555 ... 14.4%
Louisiana ... 195 ... 238 ... 22.2%
Mississippi ... 620 ... 734 ... 18.4%
Missouri ... 325 ... 347 ... 6.9%
Tennessee ... 360 ... 381 ... 5.9%

SOUTHWEST ... 8,645 ... 8,833 ... 2.2%
Kansas ... 165 ... 171 ... 3.4%
Oklahoma ... 780 ... 788 ... 1.0%
Texas ... 7,700 ... 7,874 ... 2.3%

WEST ... 278 ... 286 ... 2.9%
Arizona ... 150 ... 151 ... 1.0%
California ... 50 ... 57 ... 14.4%
New Mexico ... 78 ... 78 ... -0.6%

TOTAL UPLAND ... 13,794 ... 14,186 ... 2.8%

TOTAL ELS ... 248 ... 264 ... 6.3%
Arizona ... 14 ... 11 ... -19.9%
California ... 210 ... 230 ... 9.7%
New Mexico ... 7 .. 7 ... -1.4%
Texas ... 17 ... 15 ... -10.0%

ALL COTTON ... 14,042 ... 14,450 ... 2.9%
1/ USDA-NASS December Estimate
2/ National Cotton Council

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