Southampton County expects 20 percent drop in cotton crop

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This year, overall acreage of cotton planted in Virginia is expected to decrease. Locally, the amount could be down 20 percent. -- SUBMITTED

By Stephen H. Cowles/Contributing Writer

COURTLAND—There’s no magic formula that guarantees what a farmer should plant from year to year. Market price is normally the determining factor.

“I’m kind of speculating, cotton acreage will be down by 20 percent, but could be a little more,” said Southampton County Extension Agent Chris Drake. “This is based on reports of seed sales and gauging the responses I am getting from local farmers.”

One reason is cotton prices are down.

“Beginning last year, they were above a dollar, but are now about 86 cents to 87 cents per pound,” Drake said. “Also, the soybean market has picked up.”

He expects acreage for soybeans to increase by 10 to 15 percent, and corn by 10 percent over last year.

“Peanuts could be up as much as 50 percent for the county,” said Drake. “But with only slightly over 5,000 acres devoted to that crop in 2011, a 50 percent increase would represent just 2,500 more acres.”

Referring back to cotton, he noted that the price of fertilizer is very high, which is another reason for a smaller crop.

“Cotton requires more fertilizer than soybeans,” Drake said. “The cost of production for an acre of cotton is substantially higher than soybeans, therefore requiring more operating capital.”

“We’ll still have a lot of cotton,” he continued. “Despite the projected reduction in acreage, we will still grow cotton on more acres than any other crop in the county.”

Most of this affirms a recent report from the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Virginia Field Office of National Agriculture Statistics Survey indicates soybean acreage will increase to 590,000 in the Virginia, which would be 30,000 acres more than 2011.

The report stated that corn is expected to cover 500,000 acres, an increase of 10,000 acres from last year. Peanuts are expected to be planted on 23,000 acres, up 7,000 acres from 2011. Cotton will occupy 95,000 acres, an 18 percent decrease from last year.