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USDA January marketing numbers reflect strong pace of 2010 crop shipments

2010 cotton crop moving fast Limited amount of free cotton Average price still a question

USDA figures estimating reported cotton marketings and prices through the first half of the 2010 Upland cotton marketing year indicate that 13.7 million of the United State's projected 17.8 million bale Upland cotton crop were sold and shipped by the end of January 2011.

The numbers imply that only 4.1 million 2010-crop bales, plus cotton carried over from previous years, are still available for shipment during the remainder of the 2010 marketing year.

The January 2011 marketing figures, released February 28 by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, show that a total of 2.784 million bales were reported as shipped. The January total is approximately 1.4 million bales smaller than the 2010-crop marketing year's peak monthly shipment level of 4.22 million bales reported for the month of December.

On the price side of the report, the data reflect the fact that a vast majority of 2010-crop cotton was sold long before the harvest season price advance that continues to drive old crop prices above $2.00 per pound. The February 28 report indicates that the average price received by growers was 82.2 cents per pound for bales marketed during the month of January.

Eventually the limited amount of free cotton that was sold by producers during the harvest run-up will be captured in the USDA marketing reports and figured into the 2010 Average Price Received by Farmers calculation. How much impact it will have, though, is unknown since it is unclear how much cotton was actually marketed at higher price levels last fall.

The 2010 Counter-cyclical payment rate authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill would be based on the 12-month Weighted Average Price Received by growers. For cotton the 12-month Weighted Average Price will reflect price and marketings for the 2010 marketing year. The 2010 cotton marketing year began in August 1, 2010 and ends July 31, 2011.

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