Don Shurley, Professor Emeritus of Cotton Economics
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone, but especially for our fellow farmers and cotton producers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
The very latest projected path of the storm (as of this morning), takes it along the North Carolina coast then inland across virtually all of South Carolina. This storm is slow moving—meaning that it will dump a lot of rain, and there will be high winds for several days.
Accumulated rainfall from this storm is expected to total 12-18 inches or much more in some areas and accompanied by high winds. Most areas, even if not in the most heavily impacted area, are expected to receive totals of 5-12 inches of rainfall.
It looks like Georgia may be fortunate to escape the brunt of any major impact on crop production:
“I am relieved to say that with the current path of the storm, impacts on most of Georgia are now expected to be minimal. Eastern counties will still experience some wind gusts from the storm, which could cause isolated power outages, but they are expected to be less than 40 mph. Rainfall will be confined to the northeastern part of the state and should amount to less than two inches in all. The rest of the state should see no rain at all from the storm, which is not good for areas that are currently suffering from dry conditions. The southern half of Georgia should not experience any significant impacts from the storm, and northern Georgia’s impacts will be small and limited in space and time.” Pam Knox, UGA Agricultural Climatologist. September 14, 2018
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were forecasted to produce a total of 1.58 million bales of cotton this year. Recognizing the location of most cotton production in these states (based on 2017 county production), it appears that South Carolina cotton will be subject to heavy rainfall as well as North Carolina. Virginia will receive less and east Georgia mostly 1-2 inches or less.
As we experienced with Irma here in Georgia last year, the damage from sustained high wind can be significant—resulting not only in lost lint from open bolls, but also twisted and lodged plants difficult to harvest. As of Sept 9, the NC crop was 43% open, SC 28%, and VA 37%.
The visions of a return to 90-cent cotton appear to be fading. The good news is that the market is clearly showing signs of good support at roughly 82 cents. Support is a good thing; but prices (Dec futures) have struggled to clear a hurdle at 85 cents—we’ll first have to clear 85, if we hope to reach 90. Producers looking for an opportunity to add on to earlier sales, support is good but a rally is even better.
USDA’s September estimates raised the US crop to 19.68 million bales—440,000 bales higher than the August estimate. The 2018 forecast yield was lowered just a bit, but acres planted was raised 520,000 acres.
The US crop is still a big unknown. This is one thing giving us support. Texas, as of Sept 9, is 62% poor to very poor condition. The September USDA numbers lowered the Texas state average yield to a projected 694 lbs/acre—down from 726, but added roughly 200,00 more acres to be harvested.
US exports projected for the 2018 crop year were raised 200,000 bales from 15.5 million bales to 15.7 million. World demand is strong but there is some skepticism within industry about whether or not USDA is over-reaching a bit on its export number. 2017 crop year exports were 15.85 million bales.
Compared to the August estimates, China’s production for this season was raised 1 million bales; India production was unchanged; Australia production was cut 550,000 bales and Brazil raised ½ million bales; Chinese imports and use were unchanged; Bangladesh and Vietnam imports were unchanged.
Although prices appear to have good support, producers should be 50% sold or better at this point. The current level of prices (in the 82 cent neighborhood) is disappointing compared to where we have been. But if you’re not already at the 50% level, you also need to think about guarding against this market going to less than 80 cents and you being at-risk with most of your crop.
On the other hand, if you are already 50% or more priced, rallies to the 85 cent area could be a good opportunity to add further to sales—unless you want to take the risk of holding out for 85 to 90—but then realizing you’re also taking the risk that the current level of support will hold.
Bring the whole family for a fun day at the NFREC Art & Garden Festival and talk with agricultural scientists about new crops, methods and equipment for modern farming.
As the weather cools and plants perk up, join us for a day of fun activities for the whole family! View farm animals and equipment, and talk with agricultural scientists about new crops, methods and equipment for modern farming. Take a stroll through the new botanical garden or hop on a tractor-trolley for a tour highlighting fruits and nuts for our area. Speak with experts about all your gardening questions, or purchase unusual, hard-to-find, top-performing plants for your garden. Children’s arts and crafts activities will take place in a huge “Kid Zone” located in a shaded area of the garden area. Local arts and crafts will be for sale, and food and beverages will be available.
The University of Florida/IFAS will host the Art, Garden & Farm Family Festival on Saturday October 6, at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC), Quincy Campus. The event will be held form 9:00 am to 2:00 pm EDT. NFREC Quincy is located off Pat Thomas Highway, State Road 267, at 155 Research Road, Quincy, FL, just north of I-10 Exit 181, or three miles south of Quincy, Florida.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information: http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/art-and-garden/
When you visit the Sunbelt Ag Expo in October, make sure you visit the UF/IFAS Barn to visit with members of the Panhandle Ag Team about services available from the Extension Service for farmers, and enjoy some free orange juice and peanuts while you are there.
Becca Turner, Sunbelt Ag Expo
The Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition will celebrate its 41st Anniversary show October 16-18, 2018. Over 1,200 exhibitors will display and demonstrate products and welcome thousands of visitors to the 100 acre show site.
Crowned as North America’s Premier Farm Show ® and the largest Farm Show in America with field demonstrations, the Sunbelt Ag Expo brings together all segments of agribusiness including farmers, educators, policy-makers, ag-enthusiasts and families. All attending the show will see the latest innovation and technology that the agriculture industry has to offer.
Education is the key component of the show with over 300 seminars and demonstrations offered over the 3-day event. These seminars and demonstrations are taught in exhibit areas for beef, dairy, poultry, forestry, pond management, equine and cattle management. Farmers and ranchers attending gain beneficial knowledge on the latest in cutting edge techniques from industry leaders and university specialists. The Expo works with 21 different education sponsors to host a strong seminar and demo schedule. These education sponsors include major universities and colleges with six of these having permanent exhibit buildings on-site. New this year, the Expo will feature Youth Educational Challenges for 6th-12th graders as a competitive and fun opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge in six different content areas.
The Hoss Tools Sustainable Living Center focuses on topics for the specialty gardener. If you are interested in learning how to garden year round, visit this section. Greg Key, owner of Hoss Tools will offer a bounty of information on gardening tips, tools and more in the demonstration garden.
A crowd pleaser is the 600-acre research farm’s field demonstrations. These demos showcase harvesting and tillage equipment for cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans and hay. As in the past, cotton will be harvested during the show! In addition, hay demos will include all facets of hay harvesting from cutting to baling and will provide visitors the opportunity to see 80 different types of hay harvesting equipment run in a true farm setting.
Expo is honored to have Kentucky as the 2018 Spotlight State. The Kentucky Spotlight State Committee has put together an all-encompassing exhibit themed “Kentucky Start to finish: Pioneering Innovation.” The exhibit will also feature a special section on Agricultural Safety, including seminars and demonstrations.
There’s never a dull moment during the 3-day show and attendees will find there is something for the entire family. There is a daily rolling Antique Tractor Parade, the American Grand Finals Stock Dog Trials (the largest field of competition in recent Expo history), and even a Cow Milking Contest. Add in rural lifestyle fun, truck, tractor and ATV test drives, and the venue is perfect for rural enthusiasts.
Chip Blalock, Show Director, says, “The Sunbelt Expo is an unbelievable showcase of rural living blanketed with agriculture’s newest ideas and technologies. Its 3-days of fun, education and dreaming about agriculture’s future as we team together to feed, clothe and house a growing population around the world.”
The Sunbelt Ag Expo is open Tuesday through Thursday, October 16-18, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 (T,W) and 4:00 (Th). Admission at the gate is $10 per person per day. Advanced and discount tickets can be purchased online. The Show site is four miles southeast of Moultrie, GA on Hwy 133. For more information, go to the show website at www.sunbeltexpo.com.
Don Shurley, Professor Emeritus of Cotton Economics
Contamination from plastics is a hot-button topic in the US cotton industry right now. It should be. It’s a serious problem. Major culprits include plastic wrap from round modules, shopping bags from stores, and plastic used as ground cover in the production of previous crops in a field.
Cotton bales wrapped in plastic in Jackson County. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS
High quality fiber is one reason foreign mills have beat a path to our door in recent years. As an industry, anything that impacts the demand and market share for our cotton—especially overseas, needs to be resolved. The industry is being vigilant in addressing this problem. Groups have visited foreign mills to observe and discuss the problem. Also, the National Cotton Council will soon roll out an intensive educational effort.
Beginning with this year’s 2018 crop, the USDA-AMS Cotton Program is implementing new extraneous matter codes, 71 and 72, for plastic—“71” means type 7, level 1 (light) and “72” means type 7, level 2 (heavy). Producers will begin to see these new 71 and 72 codes on their bale analysis classing reports, if plastic is detected in the sample.For 2018 loan value purposes, FSA will treat plastic as “Other” (codes 61 and 62). Discounts for plastic are severe. The loan value discount for level 1 is 460 points or 4.6 cents/lb—about $23 per bale. The cash/spot market discount for a level 1 is currently mostly 375 to 550 points or, again, roughly $23 per bale.
Prior to this year, any bale sample found to contain plastic was coded as “Other”—a 61 or 62 (see the table above). “Other” could also be anything else not otherwise in the above table. But, now that plastic will have its own code, such a bale may be discounted even more severely. Further, such a bale could be rejected from the market place entirely.
The severity of the plastics problem is not understated. Therefore, an issue for the industry is this—it appears that classing data does not reflect what we feel is the true severity of the problem. If bale sampling and classing were detecting any plastic to a great extent, classing data would show it. If classing doesn’t detect the problem (if there’s plastic in the bale), then coming up with new classing codes wouldn’t necessarily be a solution except to say that if plastic is detected, it will now be coded and better known as such.
Let’s look back 3 years at both Texas and Georgia classing data as examples. Prior to 2018, if plastic was found in the sample, it was coded as a 61 or 62 and included in the “Other” category. In 2015, ’16, and ’17 if I take the total bales classed that contained extraneous matter of any sort and then subtracted everything but the “Other” category, then by definition the number of remaining samples classed must be the ones with any other type of contamination—plastic plus anything else not accounted for.The numbers in this table would then be the maximum possible number of bales that, when sampled, were found to contain plastic. I am told that in some years, samples actually containing plastic were considerably less than this.
For Texas, 2017 was the Hurricane Harvey year and a big jump in 61s and 62s, but still less than 0.05 percent. In Georgia for 2016, 4,700 running bales or 0.22% classed 61 or 62, but it’s believed most of this number was actually due to whitefly damage.
Unlike plant-based extraneous matter, plastic is generally not uniformly distributed in the bale. There may be plastic in the bale, but not in the sample. The plastic may not be realized until that bale gets run in the mill. THIS is the problem. If bales with plastic keep showing up, the mill may avoid that gin or origin all together.
Since classing may not necessarily catch the problem, even with the new coding, the only real solution is that producers and gins must be vigilant to adopt practices to keep plastic out.
Visit Florida, in partnership with the Florida Agritourism Association, announced the release of a new mobile app aimed at connecting visitors with Florida’s agricultural assets. Through the app, Florida’s farms, ranches, and vineyards are opening their doors and inviting visitors to sample the abundant bounty and natural beauty found in the Sunshine State’s agritourism offerings.
Agritourism combines Florida’s two largest industries – tourism and agriculture – and allows farmers to open their agricultural land to the public for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes; to view or participate in activities such as farming, ranching, historical, cultural, civic, ceremonial, training and exhibition, harvest-your-own events. According to the most recent agricultural census by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Florida’s 724 agritourism operations contribute $15.7 million annually to the state’s economy.
Ken Lawson, President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA said, “Agritourism has become more and more popular as visitors seek off-the-beaten-path adventures. In 2017, Florida welcomed 116.5 million visitors, many of whom enjoyed our state’s agricultural attractions such as such as u-pick farms, ranches, vineyards, and more. Through the Florida Agritourism app, travelers from around the globe will be able to discover and enjoy authentic Florida experiences offered by our state’s agritourism operations.”
The free mobile app, available for Android and iOS devices, is an easy-to-use tool for discovering and locating agritourism sites in Florida. The app features a comprehensive farm guide, seasonal produce calendar, and a list of more than 100 agricultural events taking place throughout the state. In the app, users can browse venue information, navigate to farms, and RSVP for events. Additionally, if desired, users can create a personalized list of favorite farms and receive notifications regarding those farm’s events and activities.
Lena Juarez, Executive Director of the Florida Agritourism Association, said, “This mobile app is a game-changer for our state’s agritourism operators. It enables Floridians and visitors to find fun activities and events happening on our farms. We encourage users to utilize it regularly to explore Florida.”
To discover more about agritourism opportunities in Florida, go to https://visitfloridafarms.com/ or download the Florida Agritourism app in the Apple and Google Play stores.