Total U.S. cottonseed production in 2012 is forecast to reach 5.913 million tons, up from 5.37 million tons in 2011, a 10.1 percent increase, according to the November Crop Production Report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In Texas, home to half the nation’s cotton acres, growers harvested 67 percent more cotton in 2012 compared with 2011. Last year’s Texas crop was decimated by drought.

“Across the Cotton Belt, the 2012 cotton crop enjoyed good growing conditions and escaped the wrath of late-season hurricanes, including Hurricane Sandy,” says Tom Smith, a cottonseed merchandiser at Cape & Son, Abilene, Texas. “Cotton quality is very good and ginning has gone extremely fast this season. Thus, prime feed grade cottonseed is readily available.”

Overall, 43 percent of the cotton crop was reported in good to excellent condition, according to the USDA report, a rating that Smith describes as “outstanding.”

According to Tom Wedegaertner, director of agricultural research at Cotton Incorporated, demand for whole cottonseed remains strong as the overall need for feed, fiber and forage materials drives the market price.

“Cottonseed has been a relatively good value this fall, so we are encouraging dairy producers to check prices and consider booking a portion of their needs to keep this feedstuff in the rations of their high-producing dairy cows.”

The Cottonseed Marketplace at allows producers to request cottonseed quotes from multiple merchants using one simple form. Dairy producers also can visit the web site for industry news, and follow @CottonTom on Twitter for updates on cottonseed availability throughout the year.