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Cotton to This Conference

December 8, 2010
By: Rhonda Brooks, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor

Cotton growers watched prices for their crop soar to historically high levels earlier this year, reaching $1.305 a pound by the end of October.

Despite the positive price gains, growers still struggle to turn a profit, given the cost of production and strong competition from other commodities, according to John Robinson, an agricultural economist and cotton marketing specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

“Economics, history and logic say prices will come down, so anyone who’s planning to grow cotton in 2011 needs to be thinking about forward pricing as well as the risk of falling prices,” Robinson explains. “Price-risk management is more important now than ever before.”

To help cotton growers manage pricing risks in the coming year, Robinson is offering an educational workshop on options hedging strategies during the 2011 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, Jan. 4 to 7 in Atlanta, Ga.

The marketing session is just one of 18 different workshops the National Cotton Council (NCC) has developed for the conference, notes Bill Robertson, lead coordinator for the event.

“Marketing is a topic that is always top-of-mind for growers,” Robertson says. “Cotton is doing well in the markets, but so are other commodities.”

Robinson’s workshop will offer participants basic information and instruction as well his marketing outlook for the near future. Along with Robinson’s lecture, farmers will have the opportunity to practice what they learn.

“We use a trading game to help growers gain experience with various ‘what-if’ scenarios,” Robinson says. Participants are given a variety of factors to evaluate, including market conditions, crop outlook, weather and other forecasts, which they use to determine the marketing strategy they want to implement.

Once participants lock into an initial marketing strategy, Robinson tells the group to mentally fast-forward three months. He then gives them new information to re-evaluate their earlier
decisions. “This gets them thinking about how to handle marketing uncertainties. At the end, they tally up the results and can tell whether or not they added to their bottom line,” he says.

Marketing is just one of the ongoing challenges cotton growers face and that Beltwide workshops can help address, Robertson says. Other workshop topics include transgenic cotton, irrigation scheduling techniques, drip irrigation, soil management and nutrition, and cotton utilization.

“We are pleased to be able to offer the workshops during four different time periods instead of the usual three, which will give farmers the opportu-nity to take advantage of more educational sessions,” he adds.

To register for the Cotton Beltwide Conferences, go to

  • Early registration, through Dec. 14, is $125 for National Cotton Council members and $275 for nonmembers.
  • Registration after Dec. 14 is $150 for National Cotton Council members and $300 for nonmembers.

More Learning Opportunities for Southern Producers

AgConnect 2011 Expo

Shuttle Schedule from Beltwide Hotel (Marriott Marquis)

  • Friday, Jan. 7

7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Jan. 8 to 10

7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Corn College for the South

Learn how to meet the agronomic challenges of growing corn in the South. Practical tips will help
lay the foundation for high-yield success.

  • Friday, Jan. 7, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 8, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.


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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - December 2010

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