Cotton planting done for state’s 2023 crop

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, June 21, 2023

By Bonnie Coblentz
MSU Extension Service

Mississippi’s cotton crop was in the ground by the second week of June, although fewer acres were planted this year because of low prices and high production costs.

Brian Pieralisi, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said cotton planting was essentially complete by mid-June. Any unplanted fields intended for cotton were too wet to plant and will likely be switched to soybeans instead.

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“Cotton acreage dipped to an anticipated 400,000 acres because of cotton market price and input costs compared to the input costs and market prices of other crops,” Pieralisi said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture rated the state’s cotton crop as 68% good or excellent and 30% as fair condition as of June 12, the most current information available.

“A lot of early cotton grew off really good and had plenty of moisture, but some of the later-planted cotton emerged in marginal moisture and experienced drier conditions,” Pieralisi said. “This sets up a perfect scenario for thrips damage. Thrips pressure was really high this year and especially high near wheat fields drying for harvest.”

The ThryvOn brand of cotton is resistant to thrips, but only about 15% to 20% of the state’s cotton was ThryvOn, Pieralisi said. Many acres of cotton were sprayed multiple times to get past the threat of this pest, and that drives up the cost of production.

Cotton is a heat-loving plant. Although recent temperatures have been more moderate than often experienced, they have not slowed down the development of the state’s cotton crop to date.

“If temperatures are over 65 degrees at night and warm during the day, there shouldn’t be an issue,” he said.

Headed into the last half of June and July, the crop needs more sunlight to accumulate the heat units to keep cotton growth and development on schedule. Hot days help the crop mature on time or ahead of schedule.

“The stalled-out front limited heat unit accumulation and provided severe weather to some locations in early June,” Pieralisi said. “A hailstorm near Macon, Mississippi, involving three  counties damaged about 25% of the cotton acres in those counties.

“Obviously, there will be maturity delays, but if warm, sunny weather prevails, these plants will bounce back to some degree,” he said. “The environmental conditions for the rest of the year will dictate the degree to which this damage will influence yield. Some yield reduction should be expected.”

Pieralisi said the crop currently does not need any more water, just dry weather to resume weed and insect pest management activities.

“To thrive, the crop needs sunny, warm days to get the required heat unit accumulation, adequate moisture but not an abundance of moisture, and the right nutrition to make a crop,” Pieralisi said. “Growers must also control any yield-reducing insect pests, such as plant bugs or thrips, especially on hail-damaged cotton.”

Will Maples, an Extension agricultural economist, said the cotton market has not moved this year.

“December cotton futures have been trading between 80 and 85 cents since the first of the year, and no events have been able to push it outside this range,” Maples said. “Planted cotton acreage is down, but better growing conditions in Texas currently has USDA forecasting a lower amount of abandonment than the record high we saw last year.”

That means U.S. production is currently forecasted at 16.5 million bales, which is 2 million bales more than last year. Stronger demand is expected, and USDA is predicting ending cotton stocks at 3.5 million bales, slightly up from last year.

“We still have a long way to go in the growing season, and any weather events could cause a price rally,” Maples said. “The next key piece of information for the market to receive is the USDA June acreage report. A decrease in planted cotton acreage in this report could finally be what the market needs to start trading higher.”

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