Four-year low acreage for U.S. cotton

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U.S. cotton acres will see another decrease in 2013 as farmers are expected to grow other grains, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers are switching to grain crops to take advantage of their higher prices.

USDA said U.S. growers will plant about 10 million acres of cotton, which is the smallest acreage in four years. This represents a 19 percent decrease in acreage from the 2012/13 crop.

Cotton plantings have been under 10 million acres only five times in the past century: 1967, 1975, 1983, 2008 and 2009, according to the USDA.

Cotton acres are suffering after several years of challenging market conditions. Over the past two years, cotton was one of the worst performing commodities while grain prices surged in 2012.

Although acreage fluctuations are fairly common with cotton, the price volatility is causing many cotton growers to eye higher-priced crops like corn, soybeans and wheat.

In addition to its weak performance, mills have switched to using more lower-priced, synthetic fibers, which has eroded demand. This has lead to increased global stocks of cotton, which has depressed prices.

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