Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on December 15, 2005. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Cotton survives 2005 with $697 million value
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton farmers could explain Murphy's Law by describing their 2005 growing season, but despite everything going wrong that could have, they managed to produce above-average yields.
Mississippi's total cotton crop has a projected value of $697 million. The total production forecast is 2.1 million bales of cotton. With this crop value, cotton maintains its place as the state's most significant row crop and its third largest agricultural commodity. Mississippi's top two crops are poultry then forestry.
“Despite the hurricanes that came through the state and damaged the crop, cotton managed a good yield this year,” said John Anderson, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Lint prices moved up slightly, giving cotton an estimated value increase of nearly 5 percent from 2004.”
Per acre average yields are projected at 854 pounds statewide, above the five-year average of 811 pounds, but well short of last year's record 1,024 pounds of lint per acre. The value of cottonseed dropped just slightly in 2005.
Cotton prices averaged 41 cents a pound in 2004, and Anderson expects them to average 48 cents a pound in 2005. The loan rate is 52 cents a pound, so prices are not good for producers.
“Cotton acreage is up this year from 2004. Soybean rust was a factor and there was an expectation that prices would be a little better than last year,” Anderson said.
Despite producing less cotton per acre than in 2004, cotton posted an estimated increase in value because of the higher acreage and the slightly better prices.
“Producers will be disappointed until they remember what all happened this year,” said Tom Barber, Extension cotton specialist.
What happened was a cold, slow start, record insect problems, high temperatures and almost no rain, then two hurricanes, one coming just before harvest.
Barber said the cool weather in April and May kept the cotton from growing, keeping it at a very susceptible developmental stage for longer than normal.
“The trend is moving away from putting fungicide and insecticide in-furrow, and now more producers are using seed treatments,” Barber said. “The majority of the time, the seed treatments are comparable to the in-furrow treatments; however, when we have a cool start and the cotton doesn't grow rapidly, we can see the seed treatment wearing off.”
Thrips became a problem statewide, and spider mites hit the Delta hard during this susceptible time. Barber said many producers had to make two insecticide applications for thrips, and those battling spider mites hurt their cotton budgets with the $20 an acre treatments.
“We got a lot of injury, and all of this set us back, delaying maturity and hurting yields” Barber said.
Once cool temperatures moved out, the weather turned hot and dry.
“We had a really good fruit load going into bloom, then we started to see some fruit shed because of weather conditions,” Barber said.
Hurricane Katrina brought the first measurable rain that some parts of the state had nearly all the growing season. While this hurricane damaged some cotton, it wasn't nearly as bad as the one that followed.
“We got some good rain out of Katrina, but when Rita came through, we had close to 60 percent to 70 percent of the crop in the Delta defoliated,” Barber said. “The bolls were open and exposed to environmental conditions, so the rain and wind strung out the cotton and knocked it down.”
Barber said the worst hit areas just east of the Mississippi River in the Delta lost 300 to 450 pounds of cotton an acre. The season turned dry once again after the hurricanes, making harvest easy.
“This year was a very expensive year for cotton producers with fuel and fertilizer prices way up,” Barber said. “We're going to really have to look at our management to keep costs down in future years, but in the long haul, cotton is their best chance to come back.