Our Views: 'King Cotton' gets smaller

For evidence of cotton’s influence on Louisiana’s history, look no farther than the historic plantation homes throughout south Louisiana. They were built, by and large, through the proceeds of 19th century cotton crops harvested by slave labor. Cotton made Louisiana a regional center of wealth and influence.

Cotton farming continues to be a significant part of Louisiana’s economy, as we were reminded by the latest news on last year’s state cotton crop from the Louisiana Ag Center. But the crop’s Louisiana profile promises to shrink this year, according to Ag Center officials. Cotton acres fell from 285,000 in 2011 to 224,000 in 2012, in a response to falling prices on the world market, Ag Center officials said.

Farming corn and soybean is cheaper, and lower cotton prices are making cotton farming less attractive. Hurricane Isaac and subsequent thunderstorms at cotton harvest also affected crop yields, mostly in the southern and eastern parts of the state.

Cotton is no longer king in Louisiana, and its footprint in the coming year will probably be even smaller. Even so, we wish cotton farmers a successful year in producing a crop that still plays a big role in the world economy.