U.S. cotton production is typically uncertain in any given year, in part because roughly half the acreage is in Texas. Still, the 2023 season is starting off with a more than usual degree of uncertainty.
First, the early season forecasts of U.S. cotton plantings vary by as much as two million acres, i.e., from 9.5 to 11.5 million acres. Such a discrepancy puts a premium on the milestone planting intentions reports from the National Cotton Council (released February 12) and USDA (March 31 Prospective Plantings report and June 30 Acreage report).
The weather is a second major source of variability. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is forecasting a transition from the hotter/drier La Niña condition to a neutral influence by late Spring. CPC further predicts the onset of the cooler/wetter El Niño condition by early Fall. That’s all well and good, but there is uncertainty around all weather forecasts. Will the beginning dryness lead to above average early season abandonment? Or will neutral El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions by planting time surprise us with timely planting rains and good growing conditions? [READ MORE]