Recently, I spent the day in Starkville, Miss., to visit Darrin Dodds, Mississippi’s Extension cotton specialist. It was sunny, but temps barely made it to 40 degrees on the drive down I-55 to Winona and then going east on US 82. It had rained three inches two nights before I made the trip, so every field was soaked with pools of standing water everywhere. Nobody has to be reminded how much cotton acreage has decreased in this state. It was just a few years ago that Mississippi boasted more than one million acres of cotton. That was before the incentive to grow soybeans and corn had arrived in the Magnolia State.
If I had made this trip in early summer, I would have been looking at solid corn and soybean fields on both sides of I-55. That’s the way it’s been for the last few years. The high price of these two commodities – combined with the flexibility of Mid-South farmers – has created a different environment here in this part of the world. The latest word we’re receiving is that Mississippi will plant close to 200,000 acres of cotton this year. That figure by itself is a bit discouraging to anyone who has been involved in cotton production in this state.
However, before anyone becomes too depressed by this fact, take note of this encouraging bit of news. Cotton hasn’t disappeared from Mississippi. An interesting trend has occurred in the last couple of months. For a variety of reasons, cotton prices have rebounded and are now close to 90 cents. This recent surge has caught the attention of a lot of Mississippi and Mid-South farmers. Some of the more optimistic onlookers are saying that prices could head to 95 cents and beyond. That might be a bit optimistic but even Darrin Dodds says he’s hearing from a lot of Mississippi farmers who will try to move more acres into cotton to lock in these prices. This isn’t going to turn into a tidal wave with major acreage shifts for cotton. But it is encouraging that cotton hasn’t been completely forgotten by Mid-South producers.
As we like to say in the business, it’s a start!!!