The USDA March 31 Prospective Plantings report did not reveal as dramatic a drop in 2009 cotton acres as expected. Pre-report guesses ranged from 7.8 to 8.6 million planted acres with an average estimate of 8.3 million.
Based primarily on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March, the National Agricultural Statistics Service indicated that 8.8 million cotton acres would be planted in 2009. That is down only 658,000 acres or 7% from 2008. As you would expect, producers indicated in the survey that they would reduce acres due to low cotton prices and higher input costs.
Upland cotton growers in the Delta States (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee) intend to plant 1.67 million acres, an 11% decrease from the previous year. Farmers in Mississippi expect to plant 300,000 acres, 18% less than last year, and the lowest acreage on record. In Arkansas, producers intend to plant 520,000 acres, down 16% from last year and the lowest since 1986.
The acreage estimates in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report will not be revised. In the case of cotton, changes between the March intentions estimates and the final estimates during the past 20 years have averaged 450,000 acres, ranging from 6,000 acres to 1.32 million acres, according to information from the University of Arkansas Extension Service. The prospective plantings estimates have been below the final estimate 10 times and above 10 times.
New acreage estimates will be made based on surveys conducted in June when crop acreages have been established. These new estimates will be published in the June 30, 2009 Planted Acreage report.