Cotton and the South are intimately linked, but competition with global competitors and closed mills have shrunk the acres grown in recent years. However, higher prices have contributed to cotton seeing a resurgence in two Georgia counties, according to reports from Rome News Tribune.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in Rome reports that 1,920.9 acres of cotton was planted in Floyd County in 2010. That was up from 1,420 acres in 2009 and 1,538 planted in 2008.
The planting numbers are tied directly to the market price. Cotton was trading for 97 cents a pound this past week. It averaged 69 cents per pound in 2008 and 73 cents in 2009.
Other changes in the industry includes an increase in no-till acres, which saves on fuel costs and seed varieties, which help reduce the amount of pesticide applications needed. In addition, growers have become savvy to selling cotton seed after it has been ginned, which is a good food source for livestock.
Cotton has also been supported by the price increases for corn and soybean commodities.
Another factor supporting the return to growing cotton is the advances in harvesting technology. Nearly everything is mechanized today. As a result one man with a four-row picker can harvest nearly 60 bales of cotton per day.
Experts, however, say for cotton to be re-embraced by more growers will require the industry to actively support export markets. Exports will be key for the cotton economy in the future.