“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.

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. 

In the West, a 12.2 percent reduction is expected with the regional total at 341,000 acres, and the vast majority of those acres moving into specialty crops. For ELS cotton, U.S. acreage is pegged at 203,000 acres, down 15 percent. As is the case of upland cotton, ELS prices down from year-earlier levels are inducing a shift to other crops.