Louisiana Cotton Acreage Up, Prices Still Low

ALEXANDRIA, La. – Nearly all of this year's cotton has been planted in Louisiana. While the outlook for the crop is good, cotton prices remain low.

LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dan Fromme said about 180,000 acres of cotton have been planted in Louisiana. That's up from 2013, when farmers planted a record low of 125,000 acres. A decade ago, however, Louisiana farmers grew about 800,000 acres of cotton.

Cotton acreage has decreased drastically across the South in recent years, largely because prices have been low, Fromme said. Many farmers switched to crops that are more profitable and less challenging to grow.

"Cotton prices have become low compared to corn and soybean prices," Fromme said. "Right now, cotton prices are around 83 to 85 cents a pound. We'd certainly like to see that higher with today's inputs."

In 2013, Louisiana's cotton sector was valued at $184.8 million. The top-producing parishes are in the northeastern part of the state.

Planting began around April 21 and went well, Fromme said. Soil moisture was ample in most of Louisiana, except in the central region of the state, where some farmers had to wait for rain before they could plant.

It hasn't rained much since then, which concerns farmers.

"We would like to see a rain at this time, especially in parts of central Louisiana where it's getting extremely dry," Fromme said.

Fortunately, this year should be quiet in terms of disease and insects. Fromme said temperatures have been warm enough to ward off diseases so far. The only insect issue he predicts is thrips, an insect that feeds on cotton leaves, but they are expected and controlled every year with insecticides.

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