NCC Survey Suggests U.S. Producers to Plant 14.74 Million Acres of Upland and ELS Cotton in 2002

During the NCC's Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX, the organization reported its survey results showing that U.S. producers intend to plant 14.74 million acres of upland and ELS cotton in 2002.

February 8, 2002
Contact: Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

DALLAS, TX – U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 14.74 million acres of cotton this spring, down 6.7 percent from 2001, according to the National Cotton Council’s 19th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey.

Upland cotton intentions are 14.49 million acres, a decrease of 6.7 percent from 2001 plantings of 15.53 million acres. Extra long staple (ELS) intentions of 247,000 acres represent a 5.3 percent decline from 2001. The results were announced at the NCC’s 63rd anniversary Annual Meeting, which began today in Dallas, TX.

With average abandonment, total upland and ELS harvested area would be about 12.87 million acres. Applying each state’s average yield to its 2002 projected harvested acres generates a crop of 17.1 million bales, 16.6 million bales of upland cotton and 535,000 bales of ELS cotton. This compares to 2001’s total production of 20.08 million bales, according to USDA’s January 2002 estimate. Cottonseed production for 2002 is projected to 6.5 million tons in 2002, down from 7.6 million tons the previous year.

The NCC survey was mailed in late December of 2001 to approximately one-third of the cotton producers across the U.S. Surveys had to be returned by late-January in order to be included in the results.

Dr. Kent Lanclos, assistant director of the NCC’s Economic Services, cited weak cotton prices as a major factor behind the expected 2002 cotton acreage reduction.

"Cotton prices have fallen precipitously over the past year and would be consistent with a grower return of loan value or just slightly better for the 2002 crop," Lanclos noted. "Even ultra-efficient cotton growers will have grave difficulty turning a profit with prices this low."

The economist stressed, though, that many growers have few, if any, viable alternatives to cotton given that prices for alternative crops also have registered significant declines over the past year.

"The failure of Congress thus far to enact new farm legislation has added an additional element of uncertainty to cotton acreage for 2002," he said. "An uncertain farm policy environment, coupled with extraordinarily low prices and already weak balance sheets, has created significant financing difficulties for some growers, contributing to the expected reduction in cotton acreage."

According to Lanclos, the NCC’s forecast of 14.74 million acres is generally in-line with industry expectations. Based on survey results, the largest decrease in cotton acreage is expected for the Mid-South with a reduction of almost 20 percent. A decrease of 11.6 percent is indicated for the West and a 3.1 percent decline is projected in the Southeast. Upland cotton acreage in the Southwest is projected to increase 1.6 percent because of higher acreage in Texas.