U.S. cotton producers are expected to plant more than 10 million acres for the first time in three years as they begin making preparations for the 2010 planting season.

According to the National Cotton Council’s Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey, growers will plant 9.9 million acres of upland cotton and 176,000 acres of Pima, giving the U.S. a total of 10.09 million acres, a 10.3 percent increase from 2009.

If realized, 10.09 million acres would be the largest number of acres planted by U.S. cotton producers since the 2007 planting season when upland and Pima acres totaled 12.1 million acres. Plantings dropped to 9.39 million in 2008.

Based on survey results, which were released at the Cotton Council’s annual meeting in Memphis, all four production regions show intended upland cotton planting increases from last year.

The West shows the largest percentage expansion of 26.6 percent; however, the largest acreage increase is in the Southwest at 475,000 or up 9.1 percent.

“Prevailing market conditions this year are more favorable for cotton prices than some of the main competing crops versus the previous couple of years,” said NCC Senior Economist Dale Cougot. “Part of this is due to further tightening of world and U.S. cotton supplies, while other competing crops experience a reduction of pressure on their supplies from either higher production or lower demand.