Cotton making a comeback

It was once the leading crop in the south, now cotton is making a comeback.   The Alabama Farmers Federation says growers expect to plant a total of 410,000 acres of cotton this year.  That's up 20% over last year.

The reason is record prices for cotton.  Some farmers are selling cotton for more than a dollar a pound.

"Finally we're seeing cotton join the game with other commodities and seeing some record prices on cotton that we hope to take advantage of," said Richard Edgar, a farmer in Elmore County.

Edgar said cotton is a time-consuming and capital-intensive kind of crop to grow.   That's many farmers have moved on to other crops.  But he said this is the first time in 10 years that most farmers in the state are optimistic that their investment in cotton will yield a big payoff.

"The cotton picker in the barn out there won't do anything else but pick cotton, so you have a commitment there when you want to plant cotton that has to have a return to be able to afford to keep it growing."

Edgar said prices are being driven up by demand overseas and even the drought and wildfires in Texas.  Half of the country's crop comes from that state.  But little of that cotton will stay in the states.  Edgar says 75 percent of his crop is shipped overseas.

"Sometime it may be picked up and taken to a shipping container that will go directly to Mobile or Savannah onto a ship on its way," Edgar said.

Not all is rosy for the farmers.  They say the price of diesel fuel is a major issue, but they still expect good returns on their investment.

Consumers are seeing the impact of higher prices for commodities at retail outlets.  Prices for food, clothing and other items have all increased.

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