By Lakin Whatley
Low market prices forced Alabama cotton farmers to plant fewer acres in 2020, resulting in a 294,000-bale decrease, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“A decrease in exports during the pandemic also influenced farmers’ decisions to plant less cotton,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton Division Director Carla Hornady. “USDA predicts Alabama farmers will plant 450,000 acres in 2021, unchanged from last year.”
Even with a 29% decrease in planted and harvested acres from 2019 to 2020, cotton continued to occupy the most acreage when ranked against other row crops in the state. Other high-producing crops include corn, peanuts and soybeans.
The Top 5 cotton-producing counties in Alabama are Madison, Cherokee, Limestone, Lawrence and Houston. Limestone, the highest cotton-producing county in 2019, had a 12,400-acre decrease in planted and harvested acres from 2019 to 2020.
Alabama contributes 14% of total cotton production to the U.S. The highest cotton-producing state in the nation is Texas, with 6.84 million planted acres. 2011 holds the record for the highest planted acreage in the U.S. at 14.7 million acres.
In 2019, 13.7 million acres of cotton were planted in the U.S. That dropped to 12.1 million acres in 2020.
According to the USDA, Vietnam, China and Turkey were the top export markets for U.S. cotton in 2019. These countries further process the fiber before it’s imported back into the U.S., the world’s leading cotton exporter.