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Cotton progress, acreage surprising in Mississippi

Agriculture.com Staff Updated: 07/09/2010 @ 8:22am

While there's still a lot of time left until it's all baled and shipped, it's shaping up to be a bounce-back year for the U.S. cotton business so far.

Cotton acres have fallen over the last few years as farmers sought a growing piece of the increasingly profitable corn production pie. But this year, cotton is making a comeback in the southern U.S. First, more acres were planted, and now, it's progressing better than it has in years, some say.

"Without numbers, I can safely say that a 'significant' increase in cotton has taken place in most of the area I serve," says Ernie Flint, a certified crop advisor (CCA) with Mississippi State University Extension in Kosciusko, Mississippi. "All except a few localized fields emerged well, and have grown very well."

Flint's observations are common throughout not just the mid-South, but the deep South, Southwest and West. Overall, officials with the National Cotton Council (NCC) estimate this year's total acreage more than 10% higher than it was last year, at around 10.1 million acres.

Now, on top of that higher acreage figure, the quality of the crop is reason for optimism in some parts of the mid-South, for example, where weather extremes have devastated the crop in the last 2 years. It's a welcome circumstance for Flint, who says a better crop will help his area's farmers be "back in business.

"The increased acreage of cotton has changed the pace for many...I expect the level of activity will remain high for most of the season if present trends are good indicators," Flint says.

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