As expected, the 2013 cottonseed crop is one of the smallest in years, according to Larry Johnson, of Cottonseed LLC, La Crosse, Wis. Growers harvested 7.78 million acres of cotton in 2013 – the lowest total since 2009. Last year’s crop yielded 5.67 million tons of cottonseed, whereas the 2013 crop is projected to yield 4.357 million tons – a 25 percent decline.

Cottonseed production down, yet prices remain steadyFor dairy producers, this means potentially tighter supplies and slightly higher prices for cottonseed, says Texas A&M University Professor and Extension Specialist Economist of Cotton Marketing John R.C. Robinson. “If animal consumption of cottonseed doesn’t make a big change – which I don’t anticipate – it stands to reason that prices will go higher.”

“Due to tight supplies and a late crop, the early demand for cottonseed remains strong, which has reduced the price dip that typically occurs during harvest,” says Johnson. “Cotton gins are storing cottonseed in anticipation of increased prices in the forward months.”

Additionally, South America is on target to harvest an outstanding soybean crop, which could negatively impact the price of feed ingredients, including cottonseed. “With cottonseed prices holding steady, this may offer an opportunity for dairy producers to secure their cottonseed needs,” says Johnson.

According to Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research and marketing, Cotton Incorporated, while dairy producers can expect to see less cottonseed this year, the quality will be good. “Across the Cotton Belt, the 2013 cotton crop grew largely under favorable conditions and ‘dodged the hurricane bullet.’”

Robinson adds that despite heavy rains in some areas of Texas, the cottonseed crop didn’t suffer. “I’m not aware of any cottonseed quality issues. Cottonseed in Southern Texas was harvested before the rains hit and the other key Texas cottonseed growing area, from Abilene to Lubbock, only received some rain.”

On the other hand, a variety of unfavorable weather conditions challenged this year’s forage crops. Thus, forage availability may be limited in some areas.

Maurice Eastridge, a professor and extension dairy specialist at The Ohio State University, adds that forage quality continues to be an issue. “Whole linted cottonseed is the best concentrate source to use as a forage extender.”

Cotton Incorporated suggests producers get in touch with their cottonseed merchant or feed dealer to check prices, or submit a request for cottonseed quotes through its Cottonseed Marketplace. Also, those interested in receiving periodic updates on the available cottonseed supply, along with feeding, storage and booking strategies, can sign up for the Whole Cottonseed E-newsletter.

Cottonseed is an excellent source of fiber, protein and energy. Typical rations can include up to 15 percent cottonseed on a dry matter basis. For more information, including reports on market conditions, feeding information and a list of suppliers, visit

Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.