Wet weather in North Carolina, particularly in the northeastern part of the state prevented producers from getting their entire intended cotton crop planted, and by the time weather began cooperating, the insurance deadline of May 15th had passed. David Parrish, Executive VP North Carolina Cotton Producers Association says this is a recurring problem:
“Well, you certainly have to look at the new varieties that we have out there, when you take everything into consideration, I think perhaps it is. and you look at some of the states south of us, South Carolina, their cutoff date is May 25th, and ours is May 15th, and certainly that is a big factor that they look at especially when planting conditions are not ideal and it puts them behind. I mean that 15th is a pretty hard cutoff date for a lot of growers.”
In the past six to ten years, many cotton varieties have been developed that require a shorter growing season. Parrish says that as more data is compiled on those varieties, the case for pushing the insurance deadline back grows:
“Obviously every year that goes by, you have another year of data, so I think we’re getting to the point where we’re starting to look at the data and show year in and year out, you can, in fact, go past the 15th and have a good yield of cotton. again, I think it will be the data, the research will show what the date needs to be, but I think it can be moved from that 15th of May here in North Carolina.”
To have an insurance deadline date altered, calling up the Risk Management Agency in Washington and asking isn’t enough according to Parrish:
“Everything’s a process, and it’s no different with RMA, in our discussions with RMA, 2013 is approaching a little too fast for their process, so it looks like 2014 would be first that we could have any changes. And that’s assuming that we provide the data, we, being the industry, provide the data to show that you can plant after the 15th and can have a normal yield.”
Final cotton planting dates for insurance purposes are May 25 in the northern half of South Carolina and June 1st for the southern half.
In fact, cotton specialists with NC State are on board with the effort to have the date pushed back 10 days according to Parrish:
“I’ve had talks with Keith Edmiston, the cotton specialist, he’s very comfortable telling growers, insurance deadline not withstanding, they could plant up to the end of May and not experience adverse yield, assuming they pick the right varieties. So, yeah, he’s certainly on board with that, and so we’ll see what the data can prove.”
Parrish explains that while it’s generally expected that North Carolina will have reduced cotton acreage from 2011, that doesn’t’ mean that there will be reduced total yields:
“Last year wasn’t the best year, across the state, it wasn’t the worst. Especially when you factor in the Blacklands. Last year they had a bad year all the way around, not just cotton, but in all their crops. They traditionally produce very good crops out there, so I think their planting out there has remained steady as far as cotton goes, so we could see a decrease in acres, but an actual overall increase in the number of bales.”
Executive Vice President with the North Carolina Producers Association.