$1 cotton?


Pima cotton growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Far West Texas are tantalizingly close to a $2 per pound market for Extra Long Staple cotton.

No joke. American Pima cotton prices are unbelievably close to that remarkable number.

At a Phytogen cotton variety update meeting Oct. 13, in Tulare County, Calif., Calcot field representative Kevin Madding said Pima quotes that day were in the $1.80 to $1.90 range.

“We’ll hold out for $2,” joked one grower, mimicking the ancient tale of an upland farmer who was urged to sell after prices hit the 90-cent range. Despite the temptation, he decided to hold out on selling until prices hit $1 per pound. The story goes; they never did.

The $2 jokester drew a lot of laughs from fellow growers in Tulare.

As everyone knows, short staple hit $1 on the future market earlier this fall. It continues to hover around it. On the day of the meeting in Tulare, Madding said it was $1.11 per pound on the futures.

San Joaquin Valley Acala growers would get more than that because of the traditional “on basis” for the longer, stronger fiber of SJV Acala. If it is roller ginned rather than saw ginned, it could bring even more per pound … maybe an additional 10 cents per pound more. Add it all up, and SJV Acala could bring $1.25 or more in this breathtaking year for American cotton producers. Also, roller ginned Acala generally has a higher turnout than saw ginned Acala.

All of this blue sky price talk is just that — talk — for now. It is likely that Pima growers contracted for at least a portion their crop during the price run-up. Questions remain: Did the growers sell it all and just how much cotton would be available if and when the $2 bell is rung?

The Pima price is so high because mills are scrounging for Pima, and the 2009 U.S. crop is sold out. There is none available to keep mills running, and they have textile orders to meet.

Supima’s office in Phoenix is getting calls often and repeatedly from mills asking when the first 2010 bales will be available.