The last thing a bull rider wants after getting turned inside out by a volatile bovine is to get right back on the same large farm animal.

However, American cotton growers may have to wrap their rope around another explosive cotton season with this season’s crop just like the last, even though “on paper” it looks like the fundamentals of more normal supply and demand are kicking in, according to Anthony Tancredi, president of Allenberg Cotton Co., the world’s largest cotton merchant based in Cordova, Tenn.

However, Tancredi also said any market prediction he would make on the eve of the U.S. cotton planting season would likely not hold up after going through the 2010-2011 marketing season he called crazy, ridiculous and unpredictable.

Tancredi mixed plenty of needed humor along with his insights into the whacky world of cotton pricing to the Cotton Board at its spring meeting recently in Del Mar, Calif.

The days of a simple cotton market are gone for now, he said.

The return of volatility to a once staid cotton market is “based on unknowns more than anything else. There is not one person in our company who can tell you what tomorrow’s price will be, and we have spent our whole lives working 12 to 14 hours days” in the business, he said.

“It is out of control volatility really run by fear,” he said.

Demand for cotton fueled by renewed, unexpected consumer demand, as well as production problems in various parts of the world have drawn down stocks to record low levels that in turn led to the highest prices in history.

“People are coming to me saying, ‘I do not care what the price of cotton is, give me some.’ It is panic in the marketplace,” like he has never seen in 26 years in the cotton merchandizing business.

Prices are still in “no man’s land,” he said. The day Tancredi spoke the upland price was at $1.30 per pound, with the question being how high will it go. It cannot go up unfettered without consequences, he emphasized.