U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 13.5million acres of cotton this spring, up 0.8 percent from 1998, according to the NationalCotton Council's 16th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey.

Upland cotton intentions are 13.24 millionacres, an increase of 1.2 percent from actual 1998 plantings of 13.08 million acres. Extralong staple (ELS) intentions of 279,000 acres. The results were announced here on February5th during the Council's 60th anniversary meeting.

With expected abandonment, total upland andELS harvested area would be about 12.74 million acres. With a per-acre yield of 642 poundsper acre, production would be 17.04 million bales. Cottonseed production is projected toincrease within an interval of 5.53 million tons and 7.21 million tons, with a midpointestimate of 6.37 million tons.

The survey was mailed in late December witha mid-January deadline for returns to be considered. Only growers involved in cottonproduction in one of the last three years were surveyed. According to Council economistDr. Kent Lanclos, the survey response rate of 9.2 percent, slightly below the normal rateof 10 percent, was not unexpected given the financial stress and uncertainty among cottongrowers. He noted that growers' responses were based on price relationships prevailing atthe time they answered the survey.

Lanclos said the indications of loweracreage in Arkansas, Louisiana and California are somewhat of a surprise as the Council,along with many observers, expected moderate increases in these states. If growers inthese three states plant the same acreage as last year, it would add 220,000 acres to 1999plantings and, based on the average yields and abandonment levels of these states, wouldadd approximately 400,000 bales to production.

"Certainly, many growers in all stateswill reassess their acreage intentions as planting time approaches and some may choose toplant more or less cotton than they currently indicate," Lanclos said. "Weather,financing and changes in current price relationships will ultimately determine 1999 cottonacreage."

Based on survey results, cotton acreagewill increase in the Southeast and Southwest by 1.1 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.Acreage will decrease by one percent in the Mid-South and 10 percent in the Far West. Inthe Southeast, 3.1 million acres are expected. Alabama growers indicate a 10.3 percentincrease to 546,000 acres, while Georgia and South Carolina indicate 0.9 percent increasesof 1.4 million and 293,000 acres, respectively. A 4.9 percent reduction to 88,000 acreswas noted in Virginia and a 14 percent decline to 77,000 acres was indicated in Florida asgrowers there suffered from low prices and yield declines of 200 pounds per acre lastyear.

In the Mid-South, growers indicatedplantings of 3.19 million acres with Tennessee plantings increasing 13.9 percent to513,000 acres, Missouri's up 3.1 percent to 381,000 acres and Mississippi's up 2.6 percentto 974,000 acres * increases due to a significant reduction in corn area. Arkansas growersindicated 836,000 acres, a 9.1 percent reduction, while Louisiana area is expected todecline 8.8 percent to 488,000 acres. Those two states also indicated a reduction in cornacreage but significant soybean acreage expansion. Growers in the Southwest intend toplant 6.07 million upland cotton acres with Texas acreage projected at 5.86 million acres,a 4.3 percent increase. Oklahoma area is expected at 188,000 acres, a 17.2 percentincrease, while continued expansion of acreage is expected in Kansas.

In the West, growers indicated plantings of864,000 upland acres. California's estimated 561,000 acres would be a 13.8 percentdecline, Arizona's 245,000 acres would be a 2.2 percent decline and New Mexico's 58,000acres reflect a 2.7 percent decline. ELS growers in California intend to plant 217,000acres, an increase of 8.6 percent while New Mexico growers intend a significant expansionto 16,000 ELS acres, based on survey results. However, in Arizona, growers indicated15,000 ELS acres for a 4.8 percent decline. ELS acreage in Texas is expected to return toits usual level of about 31,000 acres.