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January 2016 Cotton Leader

January 22nd, 2016

Cotton Research and Promotion Program Turns Fifty

2016 marks the fiftieth year of The Cotton Research and Promotion Program (the Program). The Program is carried out by cotton farmers and cotton importers who work together to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton. Its purpose is to educate consumers about cotton and to research, innovate, and promote cotton and cotton products.


By the mid-1960s, cotton had lost many of its traditional markets to new man-made synthetic fibers.  Realizing this, U.S. Upland cotton producers conceived a self-help agriculture promotion program to collectively fight to regain market share that had been lost to synthetic fibers.  Their efforts led to the enactment of the Cotton Research and Promotion Act of 1966.  In a referendum, producers voted to institute a per bale assessment system to fund the program and established built-in safeguards to protect their investment.  The most significant amendment to the Act occurred in 1990 and expanded the Program to include collections on the cotton content of imported apparel and other products.

The Cotton Research & Promotion Act of 1966 established The Cotton Board to administer and oversee the Cotton Research & Promotion Program. The Cotton Board collects the assessment that funds the program from the buyers of U.S. upland cotton and from importers of cotton products.  The Cotton Board also serves as industry liaison with USDA and works to inform producers and importers of Program activities.

The Act also directed The Cotton Board to contract with a separate organization to conduct the actual research and promotion activities. The original contracting organization was called the Cotton Producer’s Institute and it operated as a subsidiary of the National Cotton Council. However, in 1970, the Cotton Producer’s Institute became a separate, non-profit entity named Cotton Incorporated. Cotton Incorporated’s World Headquarters and Research Center is located in Cary, North Carolina and its Consumer Marketing Headquarters is located in New York, New York. Supporting offices are located around the globe in Mexico City, Osaka, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Looking Forward

As we enter cotton’s next 50 years and cotton is again facing significant competitive challenges, the Program's leaders have a renewed commitment to the hard work and dedication required to make cotton the preferred fiber for the world.

Planting and Harvesting Capacity in Cotton Production

Machine capacity information is crucial for making machinery management decisions. Machine capacity is used to predict how equipment will perform for a specific farming operation and it determines the timeliness of that operation. Machinery capacities have improved over time, however optimal decisions for planting and harvesting equipment selection remain heavily dependent upon climate conditions. Days suitable for fieldwork (DSFW) were evaluated during cotton planting and harvest windows for 13 cotton-producing states. Additionally, scenarios for different planting and harvest equipment configurations were analyzed to give an approximate indication of how many acres cotton producers can realistically expect to cover for each state under various equipment configurations. These results are usable to farmers, practitioners, and researchers for decision making including determining the number of acres that can be planted and/or harvested in a given year. These results are also important for farm decision makers to make machinery selection and acreage allocation decisions.

>>Planting and Harvesting Capacity in Cotton Production: Estimated from Days Suitable for Fieldwork {click to download} is a brief document designed by Cotton Incorporated to provide cotton producers and researchers with estimates of planting and harvesting machine capacities. Different variables and scenarios are evaluated and explained in this document that assists with determining the number of acres that can be planted and/or harvested in a given year.

Four New 'Focus on Cotton' Webcasts Available

Four new ‘Focus on Cotton’ webcasts, published by Cotton Incorporated and the Plant Management Network, offer early-season strategies on weed management, harvest aids, and soil management so growers can maximize yields when it’s time to harvest.

Cover Crop Use in Cotton: Weed Suppression and Subsequent Crop Tolerance helps cotton growers, consultants, and other practitioners understand how different cover crops suppress annual and perennial weeds by restricting light, retaining moisture, controlling erosion, and introducing new plant-to-plant biochemical interactions.This 25-minute talk by Jason K. Norsworthy, Professor and Elms Farming Chair of Weed Science at the University of Arkansas, provides information that helps users:

  • Select a cover crop safe for cotton and suitable for field conditions
  • Evaluate the use of fall-seeded legume, mustard, and cereal crops
  • Properly integrate new cover crops regimens into the cotton growing season 

Harvest Aid Considerations in Texas Cotton helps producers and consultants recognize factors that may disrupt an upcoming cotton harvest and provides guidance on determining when to apply harvest aids to improve yield.This 19-minute talk by Wayne Keeling, Professor at Texas A&M AgriLife Research, provides information that helps users:

  • Evaluate plant maturity and soil conditions for harvest aid decisions
  • Properly time harvest aid applications based on boll open rates
  • Optimize timing of crop termination in the face of unknown weather conditions

Managing Soil Compaction in Agricultural Fields helps cotton growers, consultants, and other industry experts identify factors that increase the severity of soil compaction and utilize practices that can reduce the damage caused by machines.  This 30-minute talk by Randy L. Raper, Assistant Director of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station at Oklahoma State University, provides guidance on:

  • Timing vehicle traffic with favorable soil conditions
  • Reducing axle loads and contact pressure
  • Minimizing traffic and misalignment
  • Optimal tilling and subsoiling practices

Improving Soil Health in Cotton Cropping Systems helps cotton growers, consultants, county agents, and other practitioners improve soil health and create a more consistent growing environment. Management practices that maximize soil cover, minimize disturbance, and contribute to carbon storage and overall biodiversity are discussed in detail.This 21-minute talk by Dr. Steve Woodruff, Agronomist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides information that helps users:

  • Increase organic material
  • Improve water retention
  • Optimize carbon-nitrogen ratios
  • Minimize extreme soil temperatures

All of these webcasts are available free of charge, courtesy of Cotton Incorporated, at

Economic Update

Cotton prices have been bouncing along the bottom of their recent range, with values for the nearby March contract holding to levels between 61 and 62 cents/lb. Recent weakness in prices may have been affected by macroeconomic developments, with many financial and commodity markets declining over the past week. At the center of these macroeconomic concerns has been China, where the stock market volatility has been interpreted as a sign of weakening in their rates of economic growth. Since China is the world’s dominant buyer of many commodities, including cotton, these developments may have had some negative influence on price direction. In the cotton world, China is still at the center of most discussion. Rumors are that China may begin another round of sales from the reserve system in the next few weeks. In the last round of sales, only 6% of the total volume of cotton offered for sale was actually purchased by mills. In the upcoming round of sales, whether or not mills show more interest will be something to watch. The quality issues associated with the Chinese reserves have been well-reported and that can be expected to be a challenge for demand in future sales. Another dominant factor will be price.  The Chinese government has stated that an objective of its reforms is price stability. However, if prices are not lowered significantly relative to current Chinese cash prices, mill interest could once again be expected to be limited. Chinese cash prices are currently trading near the 90 cent mark. The large premium for Chinese cotton relative to cotton in other countries and the wide separation between Chinese polyester prices and Chinese cotton prices are both challenges for Chinese mill-use. Lower auction prices could reduce these challenges, and support Chinese cotton consumption.   However, it is a globalized market, and any increases in Chinese consumption could be expected to be offset by decreases in Chinese yarn imports. Lower Chinese yarn imports could have negative consequences for spinning countries like Vietnam, India, and Pakistan that have enjoyed strong Chinese yarn import demand in recent years. So, in the short-term, lower Chinese auction prices could be net neutral for the market. Taking a longer term view, if the sale price for Chinese reserve cotton is lower, it could be one of first steps toward reducing the record volume of supply that has been plaguing the current market, and could represent progress towards more normal market conditions.

>>Listen to the Economic Update here

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