CLEMSON – Coming off a record year for cotton, South Carolina cotton farmers can expect an even greater year in 2018.

Clemson experts say the 2018 cotton season could be better than the record setting season of 2017.

Clemson experts say the 2018 cotton season could be better than the record setting season of 2017.
Image Credit: Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture

Nathan Smith, Clemson Extension economist and professor at the Clemson Sandhill Research and Education Center, said estimates for South Carolina cotton planted stand at 260,000 acres.

“This is 10,000 more acres than in 2017,” Smith said. “An increase of 900,000 acres is reported for the entire United States. A total of 12.6 million acres for the United States was reported in 2017 and 13.5 million acres have been reported for 2018.Pee

Smith said he believes the actual number of cotton acres planted in South Carolina will be more than 260,000 acres.

“I believe acreage is closer to the March intentions of 285,000 acres,” Smith said. “We had a lot of rain during planting and it’s possible that grower surveys reflected fewer acres planted than expected by the first week of June for South Carolina.”

The South Carolina cotton acreage keeps increasing. Mike Jones, Clemson cotton specialist housed at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center, said a total of 250,000 acres of cotton were planted in South Carolina in 2017, up from 190,000 acres of cotton planted in South Carolina in 2016. Better prices for cotton is the main reason cotton acreage in South Carolina is increasing.

“We had low cotton prices in 2014 and 2015,” Smith said. “Also, prices for corn, peanuts and soybeans have fallen some which combined with the cotton price improvement makes cotton more competitive with the other spring planted row crops. A good yield last year helps optimism too.”

With an increase in cotton acreage, comes the possibility of an increase in pests. Jeremy Greene, professor of entomology at the Edisto Research and Education Center, encourages cotton farmers to be vigilant in the fight against insects. The main insect issues at this stage are aphids, spider mites and plant bugs.

“But the bulk of our crop will soon be infested with stink bugs and bollworms that escape Bt technology,” Greene said.

For more information on managing insects in cotton, see the Cotton/Soybean Insect Newsletter, http://www.clemson.edu//extension/agronomy/cotton1/2018newsletter10.pdf, or the Cotton Insect Management chapter of the South Carolina Pest Management Handbook for Field Crops – 2017, https://www.clemson.edu/extension/agronomy/pestmanagement17/insect%20control%20in%20cotton.pdf.

Cotton harvest begins in late September.

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