The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast 1.3 million additional acres of upland cotton and 1 million more tons of cottonseed produced in 2010, which is good news for dairy producers, says a Cotton Incorporated spokesperson. The acreage increase is 15% over last year’s and would bring total acreage to 10.3 million.

“Based on the latest cotton planting intention reports, 2010 may spell relief for dairy producers who want to get their cows back on cottonseed,” said Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research and marketing at Cotton Incorporated, which is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The cotton supply has been tight over the past year. “We're looking at a 50% increase in the amount of cottonseed available to dairy cows this year, if abandonment levels remain at average levels.”

He noted that there is still a chance that poor weather could interfere with production, as it did last year. “These cottonseed projections assume an average abandonment rate of 11.5%, compared to 2009's unusually high 20%,” he said. “We're also expecting more seed to be produced on each acre. These factors could contribute to as much as a million tons of additional cottonseed in 2010.”

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More than half of the nation’s cotton crop is produced in Texas. “Crop conditions in Texas will be the most important factor determining the overall outcome of this projection,” Wedegaertner said.

As of April 2, new crop cottonseed prices were about $50 per ton lower than current old crop prices.