For more years than most of us can count, cotton production has been driven by yield. Of course, growers like the technologies that make insect and weed control more manageable, and they also like the improved quality aspects that modern classing provides.
However, the bottom line for any cotton variety – and the growers who grow them – was, and is, yield.
But in a market where prices retreated nearly 20 cents during the 2014 production season, it’s time to face facts. Quality cotton – especially U.S. high quality cotton – is now driving world demand. And it could make a big difference in a grower’s bottom line for 2015.
In a November market report, Dr. O.A. Cleveland pointed out that the supply and demand for high quality cotton now trumps other market fundamentals. And, while the numbers show that the world has plenty of cotton on hand, the amount of high quality cotton remains limited.
Add in projected acreage cuts for 2015, and those quality inventories will likely face additional shortages.
“U.S. quality has improved and expanded over the past decade,” wrote Cleveland, who is professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University. “Today, the international textile spinning sector recognizes this cotton as some of the very best in the world, making the U.S. the world’s primary shopping center for high quality cotton. And, now that China has mandated reductions in their land area devoted to cotton, Chinese mills will need U.S. cotton just to maintain their quality needs.
“It is incumbent on growers to select planting seed with a proven record of having the quality traits textile mills require,” he advised.
Byron Cole, area director of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Memphis Classing Office, sees the impact of cotton quality every day. He agrees that growing and producing quality fiber will be a key factor in helping growers meet their financial goals in 2015 and beyond.
And some of the programs and measurements to help growers achieve that goal are already in place.
“We have a program called module averaging, where we take all of the samples from a module and average together all of the quality factors,” he said. “We tend to see a better quality reading on those factors once they’ve been averaged together.”
The service – which has been available since the early 1990s – is free for any gin or individual who requests it.
“Last year we saw a huge increase in module averaging in the Memphis office,” reported Cole. “The number of participating gins that come to this office jumped from the mid-30 percent range last year to over 50 percent.”
To put that into perspective, the Memphis Classing Office is expecting to process and class over two million samples from the 2014 season. That, of course, doesn’t take into consideration the number of samples handed by the other nine classing offices throughout the Cotton Belt.
“Ginners and producers have been very pleased with module averaging because of the data reliability it provides,” pointed out Cole. “With better data reliability, growers can tend to expect better prices on their cotton, because they get a more reliable and more repeatable grade.
“For instance, some countries will randomly select and regrade samples from containers of cotton that they import,” he said. “We haven’t seen or heard complaints with the grades that have been put on the shipped bales. Module averaging is one of those reasons why.”
(Source – http://www.farms.com/news/high-quality-cotton-pays-off-for-the-u-s-85150.aspx)