Every crop season is different, but some are more memorable than others, and 2011 will go down in history as one of the more unusual ones the U.S. cotton industry has witnessed.
From a production standpoint, farmers endured a recordbreaking drought in Texas and Oklahoma, flooding in the Mid-South and an assortment of unusual weather patterns in the Southeast and West. You name it, and farmers saw it.
The drought was particularly challenging for Texas where producers had high hopes for taking advantage of attractive prices. However, what started out as mild concern about lack of soil moisture in the fall of 2010 turned into a crisis by mid-2011.
A potentially big crop in the Belt’s largest cotton-producing state was reduced by nearly 50 percent.
The aforementioned price environment was even more mindboggling. The year started with the futures prices hovering around $1.40. After hitting the $2 mark, those same prices eventually settled back closer to the dollar level.
How did farmers and cotton traders survive such a wild ride? Better yet, were there lessons to be learned that can be applied to 2012? Cotton Farming decided to ask two industry leaders to share their perspectives.
Jordan Lea, president of Eastern Trading Company in Greenville, S.C., and current president of the American Cotton Shippers Association, shares his thoughts about the price swings. He also offers an inside look at what it was like for a merchant to buy and sell cotton in such an environment. You can find his story on pages 13 and 16.
Meanwhile, Texas producer Rickey Bearden, former president of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., and current chairman of Cotton Incorporated, gives a personal account of what it was like to try and grow cotton during the recordbreaking Texas drought.
He can’t recall any crop season quite like 2011, but he remains steadfast in his belief that better days are ahead.
Look for his story on pages 18 and 19.