Neeper expects the Big 4 to produce almost 70 percent of the world’s cotton projected at 124 million bales next season: China, 33 million bales; India, 28 million, the U.S. 19.4 million bales and Pakistan, 10.2 million bales.

For the U.S., Neeper is projecting U.S. acreage at 12.8 million acres from about 11.5 million this year. Those numbers are subject to considerable debate, he said. Neeper said he has “heard all kinds of things from growers” about their intentions next season. Some say they will plant more cotton; others say they will plant less.

“We had a grower meeting in Imperial Valley and 25 growers showed up. They wanted to get back into cotton, but no one has pickers. The custom harvesters were not that interested in coming to Imperial from Yuma,” he said. “Growers want to get back into cotton, but have lost infrastructure and that will limit acreage increases next year.”

Just like in the California’s Imperial Valley, the lack of cotton farming equipment in the Mid-South states of Louisiana and Mississippi is also tempering cotton’s rebound, according to Robinson. “Many growers there also have lost contact with custom harvesters.”

Breaking down U.S. acreage by regions, Neeper is looking for a 15 percent increase collectively across the Delta and South.

“How many acres will Texas plant? How many acres are there (to plant) in Texas?” Neeper conjectured. Texas has never planted more than 6.4 million acres in the past dozen years. This is about what he expects in 2011, which is about 1 million acres more than last season. However, he is penciling in a more traditional abandonment with 87 percent of the acres harvested, putting projected production about the same as last year. Neeper and Robinson said it may go above 6.4 million, but the ground available may not yield well.

“There are hundreds of thousands of CRP acres in the northwest part of Texas that could come out, but if it is plowed enough to plant it will not grow squat,” said Robinson.

The West will offer the best opportunity for the largest percentage increase, but as Neeper pointed out, acreage in the West has fallen dramatically in the past five years, especially in California.

Neeper expects Arizona 2010 acreage to hit 240,000, although there are concerns about irrigation water availability. This represents an increase of more than 20 percent over last season.