During the recent Beltwide Cotton Conferences several industry experts gave recaps of the 2012 cotton crop, and the consensus was that last year’s crop was record-breaking in some parts of the Cotton Belt and heart-breaking in other areas.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of cotton production, moving toward the 2013 planting season, is the sense of frustration among growers.

Other than weather factors, they seem to have more than adequate tools to manage weed resistance problems, diseases and other production challenges, yet marketing uncertainties beyond their control continue to force growers to reduce acreage.

Add to the bright side of cotton production, entry into the marketplace by all the major cottonseed companies exciting new varieties that are almost certain to continue to push cotton yields upward.

In 2012, the trend toward higher yields continued. In the Delta and Southeast, two bale cotton was the state average across both regions. In California and Arizona three bale per acre cotton was the norm.

In each region there were growers who topped five bales per acre. The production news for cotton remains outstanding, the economic side — not so much.

Western cotton

Cotton production in desert areas out west is dramatically different from other parts of the Cotton Belt.

Over the past few years acreage has dwindled significantly, leaving the best cotton farmers to grow cotton on some of the best land in the region. The results are as expected, with three bale per acre cotton the norm for the two states and four and five bale per acre production not at all uncommon.

Growers in Arizona produced the highest statewide yields in the country in 2012, finishing up with 1,526 pounds of lint per acre on slightly more than 200,000 acres.

(See related Arizona cotton farmer hits phenomenal seven bales per acre)

In California, cotton farmers harvested 365,000 acres of cotton with a statewide average of 1,418 pounds per acre.

Despite outstanding production in three of the country’s four cotton producing regions, experts contend acreage will decline again in 2013.

If estimates of 9.4 to 9.8 million acres for 2013 are accurate, cotton production will fall about a million acres this year, or about 10 percent from 2012 acreage.