Just a few weeks before the start of cotton planting in Alabama and Extension cotton specialist Steve Brown is uncertain how acreage will look in 2021. So many factors remain in play.
Has the wet weather delayed or prevented some corn acreage, which will lead to more cotton? Will the current up-and-down nature of cotton prices have an impact?
“It’s hard to know how we’re going to proceed with cotton. I think cotton is king and should be king and fits on so many acres and grown in so many situations,” Brown said.
The USDA NASS Prospective Plantings report estimates that Alabama acreage will be comparable to 2020 at about 450,000 acres, though Brown doubts its accuracy.
“I don’t know how accurate it can be because it’s been such a fluid situation given the economic fluctuation. It’s still shaking out,” Brown said. “And the wet, we’re about to have some more rain (Wednesday) and then some cold weather again. It may knock some corn intentions towards cotton or at least certainly away from corn.”
Brown, who is stationed in Auburn, Alabama said it has been wet in recent weeks from Auburn northward. That will impact growers and when they can get in the field to plant this year’s crop.
“I haven’t been all over, but most have been getting some rain. Some of us have been getting a lot of rain. It’s wet. I can’t vouch for every place, but we’re wetter than normal,” Brown said. “It’s had an impact on field work. We had a lull there where we could get in and do field work. I know folks took advantage of it. Cotton’s still got plenty of time to get things together and get it planted. Realistically, we might not plant anything until the 15th of April, depending on cool it is; maybe the 20th would get a lot of people going. We’ll see.”
Brown said most cotton seed has yet to be shipped to the farms.
“Probably in the next week or two, it’ll get going to the farms. That’ll lock them in a little more decidedly, I think,” Brown added.
Current cotton prices are about 81 cents per pound, though it was 92 cents in February.