U.S. cotton producers harvested 12.9 million bales of cotton in 2015, 3.3 million bales or 21 percent less than they did in 2014, according to USDA’s 2015 Crop Production Summary
The decline in production is expected to have little impact on cotton futures since the market has factored the reduction into its current view of the market, which continues to be dominated by China’s massive reserve stocks of 50 million bales.
Buried in the avalanche of numbers contained in the summary are some interesting figures on U.S. cotton yields, which continue to trend higher, particularly in the Mid-South states, despite the squeeze on profit margins growers are experiencing.
The highest yield was reported in Arkansas where growers harvested a state average of 1,112 pounds of lint per acre, barely edging out producers in Missouri where the state average yield was 1,111 pounds in 2015. Tennessee averaged 1,035 pounds per acre; Mississippi, 1,021 pounds per acre and Louisiana, 814 pounds per acre.
“It used to be that we didn’t think we could breed for yield and quality, and for many years we just bred for yield,” said Fred Bourland, professor at the University of Arkansas. “More recently, we’re finding we can develop varieties with higher yields with no loss in quality factors such as length, strength and uniformity.”
Unheard of yields
Dr. Bourland, a speaker at the National Conservations System Cotton and Rice Conference held in Memphis, Tenn., today (Jan. 13), said the yields “growers are seeing today would have been unheard of just a few years ago.”
The USDA summary, which was issued Tuesday (Jan. 12,) shows the 2015 state-average yields are actually off a little from 2014 when Mississippi growers harvested an average of 1,232 pounds of lint per acre; Louisiana, 1,154; Arkansas, 1,145; Missouri, 1,117; and Tennessee, 878.
Louisiana’s sharp decline between 2014’s 1,154 pounds per acre to 2015’s 814 pounds was due to excessive rains during planting last spring, while the weather in Tennessee, generally, was more favorable for cotton.
USDA does not release estimates for quality in its annual production summary, but seed companies are reporting higher fiber characteristics for many of their latest varieties.
California and Arizona continued to lead the nation in cotton yields with 1,722 pounds and 1,555 pounds per acre, respectively. Both were reduced from 2014 due, in part, to the drought that has continued to hammer the West.
USDA is forecasting 2015 corn production of 13.6 billion bushels, down slightly from the November forecast and down 4 percent from the 2014 estimate. The average yield in the U. S. is estimated at 168.4 bushels per acre, down 0.9 bushel from the November forecast and 2.6 bushels below the 2014 average yield of 171.0 bushels per acre.
Soybean production higher
Soybean production in 2015 totaled a record 3.93 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the November forecast but up slightly from 2014, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service
The average yield per acre is estimated at a record high 48.0 bushels, 0.3 bushel below the November forecast but 0.5 bushel above the 2014 yield. Harvested area is down less than 1 percent from last year’s record acreage to 81.8 million acres.
Rice production in 2015 is expected to reach 192 million hundredweight, up less than 1 percent from the previous forecast but down 13 percent from the revised 2014 total. Planted area for 2014 is estimated at 2.61 million acres, down 12 percent from 2014. Area harvested, at 2.58 million acres, is also down 12 percent from the previous crop year.
The average yield for all United States rice is estimated at 7,470 pounds per acre, up 47 pounds from the previous forecast but 106 pounds below the 2014 United States average of 7,576 pounds per acre. A record yield of 9,100 pounds per acre is estimated for California.
USDA said sorghum grain production in 2015 will total 597 million bushels, up slightly from the November forecast and up 38 percent from the 2014 total. Planted area for 2015 is estimated at 8.46 million acres, up 19 percent from the previous year.
Area harvested for grain, at 7.85 million acres, is up 23 percent from 2014. Average grain yield, at 76.0 bushels per acre, is down 1.7 bushels from the previous forecast but up 8.4 bushels from 2014 and represents a record high yield for the United States.
For more on the USDA annual Crop Production Summary, visit http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropProdSu/CropProdSu-01-12-2016.pdf.