by Beck Barnes, Cotton Grower Magazine
I was shocked to see our final acreage projection. I don’t mind telling you that.
The Cotton Grower Acreage Survey is a pretty big undertaking. We solicit responses from thousands of folks. We tally up hundreds of figures. I reach out to industry analysts and Extension specialists from coast to coast. Ultimately, after weeks of work, I break out my little calculator and tally it all up.ADVERTISEMENT
When that digital screen read 12,082,000 projected cotton acres, I had to do a literal double take. Meaning, I figured I had gotten something wrong and ran all the numbers through again. Then I did it again.
If you had asked me to give a ballpark number when we first started the process, I would have told you 10 million. In fact, I did tell folks that I’d be “over the moon” if we could get to 11 million acres in the U.S. in 2020. Even that number – a reduction of 2.7 million acres from 2019 – would’ve represented a victory in the face of a stressed farm economy. (Full disclosure: When you’re Cotton Grower magazine, the more acres the better. Big acreage is a rising tide that floats the boats of all of our advertising partners, and that’s a good thing for business.)
Some are dismissive of our acreage survey, but there’s no denying that we are often very close. Just last year we projected 13.662 million acres as a result of this survey. According to USDA data, you all wound up planting 13.72 million. We were pretty darn close.
So we’re excited that hundreds of farmers and cotton stakeholders who responded to our survey indicated that there will once again be 12 million cotton acres planted in the United States. It’s a testament to the resolve of American farmers. It’s a bold proposition – turning a profit in the face of weather, weeds, pests, tariffs and poor prices. But our readers are up to the task.
What then can we say for 2020? What is our New Year’s resolution as we face what promises to be a challenging year?
I’d love to resolve to bring home a trade deal – one that provides some long-needed price relief. Unfortunately, I can’t control that variable. According to many industry analysts, we shouldn’t hold our breath until at least the 2020 election has come and gone.
Instead we’ll resolve to double our efforts to bring you useful, service journalism in 2020. We want to help you grow big yields. We want to help you understand when to price. We want to help you be proud of the work you put in throughout the year.
You may not need help with that last one. You’ve got every reason to be proud. And we think you’ve got every reason to be bullish on cotton as we head into 2020, despite the challenges. We’ve faced more daunting years in this industry. We always seem to come out on top.
Barnes is Editor/Publisher for Cotton Grower magazine. He joined the publication staff in May 2008.