GREENFIELD, Mass. (Dec. 30, 2002)-A total of 9,897 bales of organic cotton were harvested from 11,316 acres in the United States during 2001, according to a survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and funded by a grant from Cotton Incorporated.
Although the overall yield averaged 0.87 bales per acre, farmers in California and New Mexico who irrigated their fields achieved yields ranging from two to more than three bales per acre. Average yields per acre by state ranged from 0.6 bale in Texas, 1 bale in Missouri and 1.1 bales in California, to 1.7 bales in Arizona and 2.7 bales in New Mexico.
Production will be lower during 2002 due to a decline in the number of acres planted to organic cotton. Farmers in five states planted 9,044 acres to organic cotton in 2002, a 22 percent decline from 2001 plantings. Texas, with 6,872 acres, continues to be the leader in organic cotton plantings and production. Farmers also planted organic cotton in New Mexico (589 acres), California (584 acres), Arizona (578 acres), and Missouri (421 acres).
Those responding to the survey linked the decline in plantings to numerous factors. In California and Arizona, some landowners did not continue to rent their land out, thus ending organic cotton production on those parcels. Kansas lost its crop due to rain. In Texas, some acreage was taken out of organic cotton production to meet organic crop rotation requirements, and one grower cut back drastically. Meanwhile, farmers in Tennessee and Kansas chose to grow other crops.
In the survey, growers and farm associations said that a more stable or expanded market would be the key to their continued production of organic cotton. Increased consumer education, advertising by support associations and companies using organic cotton, and more companies using organic cotton were cited as ways to achieve this.
Results from the survey will be included in a talk by OTA's Fiber Council Coordinator Sandra Marquardt during the 2003 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, slated for Jan. 6-10, 2003, in Nashville, TN. Organic fiber products will also be among the features at OTA's All Things Organic(tm) Conference and Trade Show, slated for May 14-17, 2003, in Austin, TX.
December 30, 2002
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