Upland Cotton Prices Down; Extra Long Staple Types Are Up
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
Upland cotton prices are still bleak, falling 10 cents per pound over the last month, and are now in the .85 to .95 cents a pound range. However, there is a glimmer of good prices ahead for extra long staple (ELS) cottons on the open market.
Many growers forward contracted the just-harvested crop that might have returned a decent price, but the Pima and other ELS types are still holding a good price,” said Cannon Michael, V.P. Bowles Farming Co., in Los Banos Calif., who farms more than 11,000 acres of row and field crops, including cotton throughout Merced County.
“I know some guys that have booked some pricing of ELS for 2014 at $1.60 to $1.70, but that’s a market that operates in a different world,” said Michael. “There has been good demand, the world crop is down, and California does not have that much Pima this year due to an overall decline in cotton acreage.”
In 2013 California growers planted 90,000 acres of Upland cotton, down 37 percent from last year. ELS plantings in the West declined nearly 14 percent to 206,000 acres with largest decline -35,000 acres in California.
“There is more optimism on the ELS side due to higher prices,” said Michael. “But there is so much pressure on Upland cotton as far as what China and other areas of world can grow, so the prices are on the depressed side.”
Michael noted that farmers in his area grow the Hazera type of ELS, an Israeli hybrid type which is not as strong as Pima, but has the staple length and other properties. “It performs like an Upland type in terms of yield in the north end of the Valley, but pays about 10 cents less than Pima.
“While the Hazera seed is more expensive and does not have any Roundup Ready traits,” Michael commented, “it has a better quality fiber that the mills are looking for right now.”