In the Far West, growers in California are expected to plant 302,000 acres of upland and Pima, down from 367,000 in 2012; Arizona, 196,000, down from 203,000; and New Mexico, 38,000, down from 48,000.

California growers are expected to plant 112,000 acres of upland and 190,000 acres of Pima, continuing a trend that began with a move to Pima several years ago. That would be down from 142,000 and 225,000 acres in 2012.

Arizona’s upland acreage of 193,000 and Pima of 3,000 will be virtually unchanged from 2012’s 200,000 and 3,000 acres. Two years of extreme drought will again reduce New Mexico’s acreage, which could decline from 46,000 of upland and 2,000 of Pima to 36,000 of upland and 2,000 of Pima.

Assuming slightly above-average abandonment in the Southwest region due to the dry conditions and all other states set at historical averages, the survey indicates total upland and ELS harvested area nationwide would be 7.65 million acres, 15.2 percent below planted area. Applying state-level yield assumptions to projected harvested acres generates a cotton crop of 12.86 million bales, compared with 2012’s total production of 17.01 million bales.

“Planted acreage is just one variable determining final production,” Adam notes. “Weather is often a more significant determinant, particularly weather developments in the southwestern U.S. With this in mind, we could see the U.S. crop ranging from a low of 9.5 million bales to a high of 17.0 million bales. ”

Survey responses said that corn accounts for slightly more than half of the planned decline. Soybeans account for the remainder of the decline in acres, with many of the soybeans being double-cropped with wheat. 

“Based on USDA costs of production and trend yields, the shortfall between cotton net returns and returns for corn and soybeans is substantially larger than in 2009 – the most recent low in acreage,” noted Adams, who presented the survey results at the opening of the Council’s committee meetings.

In the Mid-South, growers are expected to reduce their acres in half from the 2.03 million acres planted in 2012. The largest decline is projected in Arkansas where growers could plant as few as 221,000 acres in 2013, compared to 595,000 acres in 2012.

Southwest growers are indicating total upland acres of 5.23 million, down 24.4 percent from last year. The respondents planting less cotton said they intend to move those acres into grain sorghum, wheat and corn, in that order. The survey indicated that some producers are planning to increase cotton, with some of those acres coming from grains but the larger reason underlying the increase appears to be weather. Growers unable to plant last year due to drought conditions are expecting to sow more acres in 2013.