Chuck Denney-Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
A rare site in Tennessee agriculture - harvesting cotton in November.
That was the case in 2009 as heavy rains and inconsistent growing conditions turned the Ag calender for a loop. Now those same fields are covered with another kind of white. But this late winter snow will soon melt, and seed will go in the ground.
The question is - how much seed?
Richard Powell (UT Extension)
“Reports I’m hearing indicate we may see about a ten to twelve percent increase this year, and that’s going to vary depending on the year, depending on how we can get in the fields.”
2010 shapes up to be the year of cotton’s comeback, albeit a modest one.
That was a topic of discussion at UT Extension’s “Cotton Focus” meeting in Jackson. In the early 2000's, Tennessee grew more than half a million acres of cotton per year. Last year it dropped to 275-thousand. What happened?
Gene Miles (UT Extension)
“Well, I think the major thing that led to the decrease in acreage is the economic situation. Cotton pretty much is a crop that follows the economy, and of course everyone knows that our economy has been down for the last five or six years.”
Also for Tennessee farmers, there were better commodity prices for grains.
Harris Armour (Fayette County Producer)
“When you look at the prices that the market is offering for beans and even corn, it’s hard to increase your cotton a lot.”
There’s research that shows cotton really benefits from rotating crops in a field - going to a grain for instance - and then coming back to cotton the following year. However, sometimes what farmers plan to plant in winter changes by spring.
Steve Bailey (Crockett County Producer)
“Cotton is good rotation.”
Crockett County producer Steve Bailey plans to increase his cotton by several hundred acres, but that’s still short of what he used to do.
“Used to we didn’t grow anything but cotton. We were 100% cotton. Then we started growing grains because the grain prices were better.”
UT experts believe the intended increase in cotton acres is a sign the Ag economy is improving.
Dr. Owen Gwathmey (UT Extension)
“One of the most renewable resources we have in West Tennessee cotton is the optimism of our producers - the fact that they know that every year brings a new opportunity.”
Global demand for cotton is at an all-time high. Million of bales needed for clothing. Tennessee produces just a small amount of that, but it looks like we will be growing more in the coming year.
NOTE: The USDA projects the nationwide cotton crop will increase 11% this year.