Dry conditions in some US states are set to hit the country's organic cotton harvests, according to research carried out by the Organic Trade Association.

The study, which was funded by Cotton Incorporated, found that while 2011 saw the largest number of acres planted since 1999, harvested acres and bales are expected to be down by 39% and 45%, respectively, due to a drought in the Southern Plains.

The extremely dry conditions in Texas have forced farmers to abandon more than 65% of their planted crop in 2011.

The survey, released yesterday (26 January), showed that planted acres were up 36% to reach 11,827 acres in 2010, while bales harvested were up nearly 24%. In 2010, US producers harvested 11,262 acres of organic cotton, representing 95% of their planted acres and yielding some 13,279 bales.

A modest acreage gain is forecast for 2012, bringing plantings of organic cotton to 16,406 acres. Another 2% net gain is in the five-year forecast, bringing the total to 16,716 acres.

Opportunities for expansion exist in nascent organic cotton growing regions such as North Carolina, which harvested its first crop of organic cotton in 2011.

Survey respondents said the cost per acre to grow organic cotton ranged from US$350 to $650, with an average cost per acre of $440. Most reported receiving $1.50 per pound for organic cotton, with prices ranging from as high as $2.40 for organic Pima cotton to a low of $1.35 for one organic upland producer.