Cotton Links

- Publisher's Note -

Cotton Outlook —
Very Promising

By Lia Guthrie

Gone With The Wind is one of my all-time favorite movies. No doubt there were obstacles to overcome, but in the end – those obstacles shaped the character of many of the roles played. While Gone With The Wind is not how I would describe the cotton industry, the parallel of challenges seems poignant.

Even Scarlett O’Hara saw the significance of a new day. Whenever she was faced with something she didn’t particularly like, her response was, “I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Maybe she felt her perspective would be different…or her strength would be renewed…or just that a new day offered a fresh start.

For cotton, the dawn of that new day is rapidly approaching. While dawn is the first appearance of light in the morning, it also means to “begin to appear or develop; to begin to be understood,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary that sits on my desk. In 2007, we saw cotton take the brunt of controversy in WTO rulings, the slow development of a new Farm Bill with cotton clearly the un-favored son, an increase in corn acreage in the South replacing cotton acres and a horrific drought in the Southeast.

That said, with each sunrise, there is hope. And while hope is not necessarily a strategy, it does offer a promise for the future. The 2008 season should bring some clarity to legislation. And while sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t, there is hope that our friends in Washington will provide our farmers with an acceptable Farm Bill.

There are other positive things to consider. The corn plantings are a very good rotation with cotton. It gives the land a breather from continuous cotton and helps to combat nematode problems in those fields. From an economic perspective, if the cotton acreage remains flat or actually decreases in 2008, the law of supply and demand should come into effect. If the law of marketing holds true, perhaps cotton prices will be more attractive.

While drought is something we cannot control, the seed breeders are actively working on drought-tolerant varieties. We have seen a tremendous improvement in quality over the last few years, and I feel certain our breeders will rise to this challenge as well. Technology continues to progress. In addition to seed trait technology, mechanical technology is stepping up the pace as evidenced with the new module-on-board harvesters.

The essence of this industry is evolution with each decade showing advancement. Yes, there are some things that we cannot change, and some things we have no control over. But with each passing day comes more experience, wisdom, and a better appreciation and understanding. I hope each of us remains steadfast as we fight for improvements, accept there will always be obstacles, but mostly embrace this dawn of a new era.

“After all,” to quote Scarlett, “tomorrow is another day.”


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