The issues that many growers faced last year are much the same again this year, regardless of potential price, he said. Water continues to be a significant question in New Mexico and Texas. The belief is that there is enough water to grow a cotton crop, but the first release of water may not come until June 1, certainly too late for planting any additional cotton. The sale of American Pima planting seed was very high, and seemed to indicate that there was a potential for record planted acreage in some areas. Yet, a good portion of that seed may never make it out of the bag this season.

The current industry sentiment on acreage now expects that Arizona acreage could reach 8,500 acres — slightly below the 9,000 acres estimated in the Prospective Plantings Report. California, however, is believed to have approximately 261,500 acres planted according to a gin survey conducted recently by the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations (CCGGA). That number is a sizeable increase over spring 225,000-acre USDA–NASS estimate. However, it also falls short of some of the more optimistic acreage estimates that had approached a 300,000-acre figure for California. New Mexico is very close with current estimates at about 3,400 acres, a mere 100 acres off from the earlier estimate, and Texas acreage may be closer to last year’s acreage number of 17,000 acres with reports that growers that have water are planting American Pima again for the first time in years.

Assuming that the latest estimates are close to the final numbers and allowing for conservative yields in consideration of some later plantings and tougher early weather, the production for the 2011-2012 crop may only come in at around 700,000 bales, according to Lewkowitz. The USDA–WAOB World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate only forecasts U.S. production to be 677,000 bales.

By mid-May, export sales were already reported at 318,900 bales for the crop that will be harvested in November.

It will be another tight-supply, high-price year for American Pima cotton producers.