Mixed Year for Cotton Growers with Less Water and Higher Prices

Brian German Field & Row Crops, Industry

California cotton growers have been struggling with constraints on water availability this year. President and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, Roger Isom explained that overall acreage was down due to a lack of water. Cropping decisions in areas with no surface water deliveries and restricted pumping caused many growers to prioritize permanent crops in lieu of things like cotton, tomatoes, and garlic.

cotton growers

“Cotton acreage was down to something under 120,000 acres which would make it the lowest cotton acreage we’ve ever seen,” Isom noted. “But then when you look at the crop that was planted, it’s pretty decent quality so far that we’re seeing. Early returns have decent yields, we’re not going to break any records, but it looks fairly good.”

The decline in acreage may work out in favor of the cotton growers who were able to plant this year. Isom said that after COVID initially curbed demand dramatically, things are beginning to move in the right direction. “Mills are starting to now come out of COVID, people are starting to buy clothes and towels and sheets again. So, the demand has started to increase, not quite back to normal yet, but getting there,” said Isom.

That increasing demand has created a positive environment for growers. With cotton supplies lower than average, particularly for the Pima market, it is pushing prices higher. Isom expects very little Pima to carry over into next year as demand continues to trend higher. The low supply combined with increasing demand has resulted in a beneficial price situation for growers.

“It’s really good, some of the highest Prima prices that we’ve seen in a very, very long time,” Isom explained. “So, I think the growers that were able to get cotton in and get it planted and get it harvested are going to be extremely happy.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West