Revised TDA Stalk Destruction Rules Designed
To Advance Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Effort

Friday, August 14, 2009                             by Shawn Wade

      While not designed to directly address issues that exist on the High Plains of Texas, newly revised Texas Department of Agriculture rules regarding the State's Cotton Stalk Destruction Program and control of non-commercial cotton will ultimately benefit cotton producers throughout the state.

      Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Executive Vice President Steve Verett says that the new TDA rules take aim at one of the boll weevil eradication program's most vexing problems – volunteer cotton that can provide a home for weevils throughout the winter months in South Texas and increase the cost of eradication to producers.

      Off-season volunteer cotton isn't big a problem on the High Plains since Mother Nature always provides a hard freeze that kills cotton stalks in the field after harvest, thus eliminating the potential for a cotton host during the winter months. He notes that there is a difference between the in-season rules that all cotton producers abide by to control volunteer cotton and the more specific Stalk Destruction Program that is designed to eliminate hostable cotton in areas that can experience year-round cotton growth.

      "Even though we aren't directly impacted by the new stalk destruction rules here on the High Plains," says Verett, "the extent to which these new regulations allow boll weevil eradication to advance in southern areas of Texas ultimately provides a positive benefit to High Plains cotton producers."

      For growers in South Texas that initial benefit from successful implementation of the revised rules will be the eventual elimination of the boll weevil as a significant yearly threat to their cotton crops.

      When eradication is completed, all Texas cotton growers will benefit from a common ability to grow cotton without cost or loss incurred by this insidious pest.

      Verett says, "The eradication program's success in the last remaining active zones will allow us to declare victory over the boll weevil and move on to a continued, watchful effort to maintain Texas and U.S. cotton fields weevil free."

      During development of the new rules, which were authorized by the passage of HB 1580 during the last Texas Legislative Session, the Texas Department of Agriculture received comments from cotton producers and industry stakeholders, including Plains Cotton Growers.

      "We have made significant progress in boll weevil eradication, and thanks to the input from our Texas cotton farmers, we are better prepared to protect our nation's leading cotton industry grown right here in the Lone Star State," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said.

      As a result of these comments TDA's announced changes to the Cotton Stalk Destruction Program include adopting November 20 as the destruction deadline for both Zone 7 Area 1 and Zone 8 Area 2, which are located in the Northern and Southern Blacklands Eradication zones. The revised date includes more than 50 days for harvest and destruction of a field.

      Another change from the proposed version of the rule is that the new deadline will not become effective until the 2010 growing season, thereby allowing producers the opportunity to harvest under current regulations. Both of these decisions represent compromised changes to the proposed version of the rule to incorporate needs expressed in comments received.

      The regulations also implement a change from the previous penalty structure based on fines for violations of rules regulating the presence of hostable cotton. Instead of the current fine associated with the presence of hostable cotton, now producers will pay a fee designed to offset the cost to producers and the state of monitoring and treating hostable cotton.

      Specifically, the rule implements a fee of $5 per acre per week for hostable noncommercial cotton not destroyed within 14 days of notice from TDA. This rule places a cap on the fee for hostable noncommercial cotton existing prior to the cotton stalk destruction deadline. After the deadline, the fee will not be capped.

      For commercial cotton, a fee of $5 per acre per week will be assessed for hostable cotton existing after the stalk destruction deadline. After the fifth week of noncompliance, the fee will increase to $7.50 per acre per week.

      All fees collected for hostable noncommercial and commercial cotton were designed by the Legislature to pay for increased eradication costs caused by hostable cotton.

      Also adopted were changes to the requirements for cotton stalk destruction deadline extension requests. Only fields that are unharvested will be required to submit an extension request 10 days prior to a deadline. For harvested fields, TDA will accept an extension request up to the end of the day of the deadline.

August Production Estimates Recognize
Growing Potential Of High Plains Cotton Crop

Friday, August 14, 2009                             by Shawn Wade

      USDA's August Crop Production report includes an optimistic, but fully achievable, yield and production goal for 2009 High Plains cotton crop.

      The High Plains crop, which is looking much better thanks to a sprinkling of timely rainfall and near optimum growing conditions over the past six weeks, has managed to get itself in position to produce in excess of 4 million bales this season according to the USDA production estimate.

      Before anyone gets too excited, though, an experienced High Plains cotton industry observer will quickly caution those less familiar with the region that the August estimate is certainly a realistic forecast of what the crop MIGHT ultimately produce, but that the crop is set still has a long way to go.

      Like any High Plains growing season that exhibits good potential September is shaping up to be the critical month for the 2009 crop.

      "The August report verifies much of what we have been witnessing in the development of the 2009 crop," says Plains Cotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett. "One of the things that immediately caught our eye, beyond the solid estimates for yield in both districts 1-N and 1-S, was the reshuffling of planted acreage within the state that raised our area's plantings by 180,000 acres."

      He notes that the added acreage in the two districts that comprise the High Plains resulted from declines in reported acreage in several other districts around the state. All told, though Verett said that this month's planted acreage revisions will probably be adjusted further in September as USDA inserts final Farm Service Agency acreage certification information into the mix.

      Based on the August report's changes, however, the rearranging of Texas cotton acres significantly narrowed the gap between High Plains planted acres estimated on June 30 in USDA's Planted Acreage Report and a variety of outside cotton industry estimates.

      Where the June 30 report slotted High Plains cotton at 3.16 million acres planted, the August Crop Production report's revised figures raise that number to 3.34 million acres. This is much closer to the 3.4 million or so acres industry watchers had been penciling in for 2009.

      Abandonment in the two High Plains districts is estimated at 730,000 acres, a figure slightly higher than most industry estimates to date, which seem to be averaging closer to the 650,000 acre level.

      On the production side of the report, High Plains producers in district 1-N are forecast to average 1,006 pounds of lint per acre in 2009 while their counterparts in district 1-S are forecast to average 713 pounds per acre this season.

      Considering where the crop started in each of these districts the optimistic yield forecast adds to expectation that September will once again make or break High Plains production prospects.

      A good September means that the combined 4.16 million bale production forecast for districts 1-N and 1-S has a good chance of being reached or even exceeded with another timely dose of rainfall in dryland areas and avoidance of any weather related delays.



August 7, 2009

         CCI leverages Colombiamoda to pursue business opportunities for U.S. cotton yarns and fabrics in Colombia. Nine COTTON USA Sourcing Program member mills were featured within the stand at the trade show. In addition to promoting U.S. cotton yarns and fabrics at Colombiamoda, CCI also set up tours for U.S. mills and Marc Jacobs International to explore business opportunities in Colombia.

         In the three days prior to Colombiamoda, four Sourcing Program mills each visited 12 Colombian companies in Bogota, Cali and Medellin to facilitate business relationships. They provided information about the U.S. cotton textile industry and garment manufacturing companies throughout the Western Hemisphere.

         CCI conducted additional mill tours with Mrs. Olivia Marino, knitwear production manager from Marc Jacobs International Ready-to-Wear Division. Marc Jacobs is interested in scouting out new business opportunities with the Colombian textile industry, and Marino visited 13 Colombian companies in Bogota and Medellin. U.S. mills featured at Colombiamoda were: Buhler Quality Yarns, Carolina Cotton Works, Contempora, Frontier Spinning Mills, Hanesbrand, Hammrick Mills, Parkdale Mills, Tuscarora Yarns and Zagis USA.

         Growing number of consumers in Japan recognize and trust the COTTON USA Mark. The study, conducted in June 2009, demonstrated that the COTTON USA Mark campaign has raised awareness for the brand and generated positive attitudes towards high quality U.S. cotton. Awareness among women, the primary target for COTTON USA Mark promotions, has increased from 30 percent in 2007 to 37 percent in 2009. In addition, the awareness level among men and women in most categories has increased; the largest increase, 16 percent, occurred among women aged 45 – 54. Finally, consumers' attitudes toward U.S. cotton and its positive attributes increased across the board. Japan is the world's second largest consumer market after the United States.

         Colombian consumers have a strong preference for U.S. cotton. According to the latest COTTON USA Mark Awareness study carried out in May, 72 percent of Colombians surveyed are "likely to buy" U.S. cotton products. This represents an increase of 24 percent in comparison to the last study in 2007. Also, 72 percent of Colombians surveyed are convinced that products made of U.S. cotton "have a higher quality." The biennial survey, conducted by research firm Synovate S.A., also shows awareness of the COTTON USA Mark at an all time high, with 75 percent of consumers recognizing the logo.

         CCI and Supima work toward building a high-end segment for U.S. cotton in China. CCI China & Hong Kong recently linked up with Supima in China to expand and strengthen their business relations with prospective partners in China. CCI arranged nine meetings with Supima and the following brands: Nautica, Ivy House, Dazzle, Fornaria, Esprit Home, Dinosaur, Marie Claire, Christy and Sheridan. Each of these brands has high potential to develop a series of joint Supima and COTTON USA collections in China in spring/summer 2010.

         Daiwabo Neu Co. in Japan expands its range of COTTON USA licensed products. Daiwabo Neu, a COTTON USA Mark licensee for the company's Body Compo brand underwear and Texas 7 brand T-shirt and sweatshirt added New South brand T-shirts to its list of licensed products. New South T-shirts will be composed of 100% U.S. cotton. Daiwabo Neu expects to label 60,000 units annually, which equates to nearly 100 bales of U.S. cotton.