Local cotton crop exceeds previous years
By LPR Staff
As the dust from the cotton gin lingers in the air and fluffy bolls decorate the sides of roads throughout Caldwell County, representatives from the Lockhart Cotton Gin expect a marked increase in cotton production for the 2014 growing season.
“We had more acreage planted this year,” said Lockh
art Gin manager David Schulle. “We had around 10 percent more planted this year, and that’s going to make a difference in our production.”
Halfway through the ginning season, Schulle reports more than 7,000 bales processed so far, and expects that the Lockhart Gin will process more than 13,500 bales before season’s end. Last year, he said, they processed around 9,100.
Nationwide, experts say the cotton harvest is exceeding expectations throughout the country, and that prices will have to fall more to allow producers to clean out their stockpiles. Schulle, however, said local growers have not taken the same hit as some other row-crop farmers.
“The prices have softened a little bit,” he said. “But not anything like the grain prices have done. So we all just have to roll with it.”
“Looking at the world supply situation, we thought India was in a drought situation, but it appears they planted a lot more than anticipated,” John Robinson, AgriLife Extension cotton marketing economist reported to the AgriLife Extension last week. “They will weigh in on prices or support prices a bit. The other lingering supply issue is how much China has brought into the equation. They’ve accumulated over 40 million bales of cotton in reserve. The fear is they would cut back on imports and use that stockpile. Recent news out of China raises fears that they will restrict cotton imports through their new target price subsidy and also by restricting available import quota.”
As the harvest continues through the rest of the month, weather will be a key determining factor, Robinson said. Still, the outlook is good for high-quality cotton being produced throughout the state.
“Looking right now at about 6.1 million bales will prevent shortage of base rate cotton in the world,” he said. “Premium cotton could be in short supply, so that might be an opportunity. For base-grade cotton, the question will be how weathered is it, how good is it? There could be too much of that (supply). If they got some premium cotton, they might get some good prices for that. That could offset lower prices received for some base cotton that is of lesser quality.”
Schulle said the Lockhart Gin will continue operations during their busiest season, and hopes to complete processing by early November. At that time, he said, he will be able to give a more detailed report on the local cotton harvest, and how growers will be impacted by changes in the market, including a shift to natural-fibers in the fashion industry.
(Additional information provided by Blair Fannin, Texas AgriLife Extension)