It’s the tortoise and the hare

Two of the crops I am most concerned with are peanuts, of course, and cotton. A sister publication to Peanut Grower is Cotton Farming, and in most every issue I have an article.
I know far more about peanuts, but have learned a great deal about cotton. Cotton and peanuts both grow well in the same soil type and are good rotation partners because of the differences in the disease and insect spectrum that affects them both. I know how each grows, how the fruit of each is produced and how each crop is harvested.

What I didn’t know until just recently is how vastly different the markets are for these two crops. Last March, I wrote about the acreage volatility in peanuts, and although everyone agreed that a more stable market and acreage were preferred, no one could say if it would happen.

The peanut market changes quickly. As I wrote in my Editor’s Note then, “A new contract offer, the release of a USDA NASS report, a small change in the price of fertilizer – any one of these items can quickly change the outlook on the peanut market.”

The January issue of Cotton Farming is about maintaining the momentum of the cotton market. What I learned in that issue is that cotton is a much more global market. Small changes do not really affect the cotton market because that market is so big; it takes big changes and it happens more slowly, much more slowly than peanuts. The cotton market is not subject to the boom-and-bust cycles like peanuts because it takes longer for any one thing to affect it.

If you think about it, peanut is the hare, darting here and there, jumping and diving, starting and stopping quickly. Cotton is the tortoise, lumbering along slowly, slowly, slowly building up steam.

Who wins? Well, you know how the story goes, but this year, I think it’s both. You can’t ignore the price of cotton is superb and neither can peanut shellers. They have already put out contracts, knowing it would be necessary to get enough peanut acres planted.

For the next couple of months, the Market Watch column, written by Contributing Editor, Tyron Spearman, will cover two pages, thanks to EMD Crop BioScience. Hopefully, this extra market coverage will give you more insight into the peanut market, as we all wait with interest to see how the cotton market progresses over the 2011 crop year. Enjoy, I know I am.