Increase Expected in Cotton

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Cotton in Arizona. Photo by Sabrina HillThe U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts a large increase in cotton production in Texas, the biggest cotton-producing state in the U.S. Cotton industry observers are noticing cotton production shifting northward into Kansas and Oklahoma. CoBank issued a report looking at the reasons for cotton increasing into new areas. The report says the reasons behind the expansion include unprofitable prices for grain crops, declining water availability, round bale harvesters, better genetic varieties of cotton, and increased optimism about a cotton program re-entering the 2018 Farm Bill. A CoBank senior analyst says the projections of increased cotton planting are sending signals to the cotton industry that it will need more ginning capacity and storage capacity. Ben Laine of CoBank says, “We’re already seeing some cooperative gins in Kansas expanding capacity, with some doubling their previous year’s capacity, and others in three more states increasing their capacity by as much as 30 percent.” While the cooperatives are expanding, the bigger question is how sustainable cotton will be in some of these new areas. Laine says, “If cotton is included in a rotation, the underlying infrastructure investments and the long-term economics compared to other crops show cotton is sustainable in these typically grain-dominated areas.”

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