“It’s making it where the cost of growing cotton, we can’t recover the costs we put in, so we’re having to switch to a crop we can recover.”
“Generally in Texas year in and year out we plant about 6 million acres across this state. This year we planted 4.7 million acres. That is a drastic drop in acreage across Texas. If we look across the belt, it’s even more precipitous than that. I’ll give you an example of Mississippi, which a lot of people identify with as a cotton state. Generally over a million acres in that state and this year under 400,000.”
Mark Williams farms 100 miles northwest of Lubbock in Parmer County.
“We had a 70% drop in acres in my county last year. I think 3 or 4 of the gins in the county did not open. They’re not permanently closed yet.”
Cotton specialist Robert Lemon says the price of cotton will have to increase to stem the erosion of cotton acreage.
“I’ve talked to a lot of growers, not only in Texas, but in other states, and they sort of lean on a dollar to a dollar plus in terms of bringing cotton back into their mix.”
And with current prices in the 70 cents per pound range, a dollar plus a pound seems to be a long way off.
“I have a lot of friends back in the mid-south and southeast that have switched all of their operations to grain now, due to the price of corn and other grains, so hopefully at some point it will raise cotton prices. It hasn’t raised them very much yet.”
The global cotton market ultimately determines the price.
“The big issue on cotton is what we call a stocks to use ratio. In other words, it’s the cotton bales that we hold over from year to year. As we continue to whittle away at that stocks to use ratio, we ought to see cotton price go back up.”