Crop Report Trims A Little More From
2009 High Plains Crop Estimate

Friday, December 12, 2008                       By Shawn Wade

      The United States Department of Agriculture has trimmed another 30,000 bales from the crop production estimate for the Texas High Plains region as 2008 crop projections. The decrease continues to inch the estimate toward the range that many High Plains cotton industry observers are discussing.

      The latest NASS estimate has the region estimated to produce 3.38 million bales down slightly from the 3.41 million bales forecast the previous month. Revisions to the crop estimate at this time of year are typically small since there is a real mixed bag of data being used to form them. The nature of the process dictates that as ginning data becomes available to verify, or refute, previous yield forecasts based on in-field surveys it is safe to assume that future estimates will continue to narrow the margin for error.

      The end of harvest is in sight for most producers as crop reports indicate the area has now harvested some 90 percent of the crop. Some of the region's gins, in fact, are already finishing their 2008 operations. Overall the ginning season is expected to be finished by the end of January in all but a few isolated areas.

      Since late Summer, people familiar with the High Plains crop situation have believed that the combination of a tough start, reduced acreage and less than ideal conditions would make it hard for the crop to produce any big surprises.

      With a "never say die" attitude, the crop put its best foot forward and tried to mature a boll load that was projected by NASS to produce almost 4 million bales of cotton in August.

      NASS's early optimism, however, wasn't realized as the weather ultimately prevented all of that potential from becoming mature cotton. Instead the weather eventually sent the crop down a less productive path.

      The bad news is that the 2008 crop will produce a significant amount of low Micronaire cotton and an even larger number of bales discounted for bark. These two grade components, which also suffer the stiffest loan discounts, are the soft underbelly of the 2008 crop.

      On the upside, though, is the fact that Color and Staple measurements have kept most of the crop firmly locked in the top right quadrant of the loan chart based on Color, Staple and Leaf grades and helped support loan values.

      Color grades reported on the 1.4 million bales classed so far at the USDA AMS Lubbock Cotton Classing facility show only 16.5 percent have received Color grades below a Middling color grade 31. To date 44.3 percent have fallen in the Middling category while 39.2 percent have received Strict Middling color grades of either 21 or 11. The lamesa office reflects similar results.

      Base quality cotton for the Commodity Credit Corporation loan program would have a Strict Low Middling color grade 41 color, a staple length of 34 and a leaf grade of 4.

      More than 79 percent of the bales classed at the Lubbock Cotton Classing facility have recorded staple lengths equal to or better than a 37, which is equal to a length of 1-5/32nds of an inch. A whopping 89.8 percent is staple 36 or longer and 97 percent is staple 35 or longer. A miniscule 3 percent of the 2008 crop has registered staple lengths of 34 or shorter.

      With a clearer picture of the 2008 crop emerging on a daily basis it is still hard to say whether or not the December 11 USDA Crop Production estimate is on the mark or if it is due for a few more slight revisions.

      By the time USDA issues its next estimate on January 12, 2009 the picture should be considerably clearer and almost all the blanks ought to be filled in by the end of January as the last gins will either be wrapping up or about to finish their gin runs at that time.

      The bottom line is that everyone hopes USDA knows something the pessimists among us don't since producers need every pound of their 2008 production and then some to pay their 2008 bills and prepare for 2009.

 

2009 Beltwide Just Around The Corner

      The 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conference is near and growers are encouraged to mark their calendars and make plans to be there. This year's Beltwide Conferences will be held January 5-8 at the Marriott Rivercenter/Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.

      Full conference information including preliminary program details, housing information, continuing education unit offerings and information about spouse programs and tours is available at http://www.cotton.org/beltwide/

      A downloadable PDF version of the final 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences' program is scheduled to be available at the BWCC website on December 1. A printed program will be made available at the meetings, which promise to offer a wealth of information at a location enjoyable for the entire family.

 

No December Ministerial For WTO; Agriculture
Negotiators Get To Spend Holidays At Home

Friday, December 12, 2008                       By Shawn Wade

      World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy has announced that he has dropped plans for a year-end push to achieve a breakthrough in the stalled Doha negotiations.

      Blaming a lack of political will by key parties to narrow their differences, Lamy's decision means that the next opportunity for the often delayed Doha Round to resume will be after U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

      The delay is good news, and an early Christmas present, for U.S. cotton producers who haven't had much to cheer about when it comes to the Doha Round.

      If Doha's days are numbered as a result of this latest set-back. If so, U.S. cotton producers will have the intransigence of countries looking for larger and larger concessions from the U.S., in exchange for no concessions of their own, to thank for it.

      Unfortunately this is probably not the end of the Doha Round; just an extended pause. About the only thing that is certain about the Doha landscape following this missed opportunity is that the U.S. presence at the table will be different if and when the negotiations resume.

      A new President with markedly different priorities from his predecessor virtually assures some change in the positions and negotiating style that will be employed from this point on. It is also safe to say that U.S. agriculture will not be the only one sitting on the edge of their seat to see just what those differences will be.

 

2008 High Plains Cotton Quality Summary

      The following is a summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDA Cotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2008 production season.

 

Current Week:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

75,384

21+ - 55.0%

31 – 40.9%

2.97

36.42

Lubbock

249,922

21 + - 37.5%

31 – 44.2%

3.19

36.88

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

3.64

29.70

80.53

50.2%

Lubbock

3.55

29.63

80.41

66.5%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

389,890

21+ - 54.8%

31 – 39.1%

3.09

36.40

Lubbock

1,398,641

21+ - 39.2%

31 – 44.3%

3.28

36.92

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

3.80

29.52

80.54

42.4%

Lubbock

3.61

29.86

80.53

56.3%