Alabama Cotton: Planting Nearing Go Time

    Cotton planter loading seeds. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Gaylon Morgan

    The calendar suggests it’s getting close to GO-time, but there are yet a few cool nights expected, at least here in East Central Alabama. Soil temperatures are into the 60s in many places and seem to be holding well. In most years, we usually plant cotton under temperatures favorable for rapid emergence, but as the calendar advances and conditions warm, moisture becomes an increasing concern. Maybe not this year. Fronts are bringing rain on a regular basis to the lower Southeast.

    Ok, we shared a little bit of humor last month about the cotton farmer who missed locking in his dreamed-for, hoped-for price. ‘Painful if it wasn’t so real. Since late February the market has fluctuated from just over 88 cents down to 76 cents … and bounced back up to 82 cents again.

    On April 12, 2021, USDA published historical crop production records. It included cotton data — acres planted/harvested, yield/A, bales, price/lb and total value — dating back to 1866. For U.S. upland cotton in 2020, they reported a harvest of 14.95 million bales from 8.7 million (harvested not planted) acres, for an average yield of 825 lb/A at a price of 65.2 cents/lb and total value of almost $4.7 billion.

    The 1st USDA estimate for cotton plantings for 2021 was released March 31. The report indicated no change from 2020 for Alabama (450,000 acres) and essentially none for the U.S. (12.036 million). However, given recent market fluctuations, acreage may still be somewhat fluid as planting time reaches different parts of the U.S. Cotton Belt.




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