A Clemson Extension specialist says South Carolina farmers have planted more acreage in cotton this year amid near record highs for cotton prices.
Last year, South Carolina farmers planted about 250,000 acres in cotton, up from 190,000 acres in 2016.
“I think we’re in the 270,000-280,000 range, somewhere in there,” Extension Cotton Specialist Mike Jones said. “We were coming off a pretty good year last year. Across the United States we set a record crop. I think the U.S. yield came in at 889 pounds per acre. So whenever we come off a good year like last year, growers are pretty optimistic after seeing a good crop and they tend to plant more acres.”
South Carolina farmers are banking on another record year based on the number of acres planted.
Jones said “it’s too early to tell” how farmers will fare this season. Those who planted early were faced with drought and heat in late July. Farmers who planted in late May still have the uncertain weather determining the outcome of their crops.
He said the price for cotton is up compared to other commodities such as corn or soybeans.
“I think probably the biggest thing this year was the price was up for cotton this year, especially compared to other commodities like soybeans and corn,” Jones said. “Some cotton acreage came from peanuts so we had an increase from all the other commodities going into cotton this year and it’s basically because of price.”
The price of cotton fluctuates daily, but is hovering between 85-90 cents per pound, Jones said, adding that is “outstanding” for cotton.
“The demand across the world is at a historic high right now and that’s causing the price to be high,” he said.
Jones does not anticipate the threat of tariffs on some American crops to affect cotton farmers this year.
“We shouldn’t see that much effect because the supply and demand across the world already is in place. So anything that’s happening now probably wouldn’t affect this year’s crop too much,” he said. “But there’s a lot of people who are nervous about the tariffs, a lot of speculators and that sort and they can cause the markets to really become erratic.”
“I can’t say it won’t affect it but I think we’re pretty stable at this point.”