• Of the major cotton producing countries in the world, only China had a reduction in cotton production in 2010.
• Acreage increases are expected in all the major cotton producing countries, except for China, in 2011.
• Continued skyrocketing increases in the middle class in Asia are pushing demand for cotton clothes to new highs.
Cotton stocks dropping
Worldwide cotton stocks have dropped more than 20 percent in two years to 9.3 percent. By comparison corn stocks stood at 13 percent in 2009 and dropped to 5.5 percent last year. Soybean stocks have held steady for two years at unprecedented low levels of around 4 percent worldwide.
Worldwide, cotton is booming down on the farm! The economic news is good from the farmer’s perspective and this optimism is reflected in world production numbers.
Australian cotton growers, for example, are set to harvest a record crop this spring.
The biggest cotton harvest in Australia’s history has started in the northwest of New South Wales — the largest cotton producing state in Australia, says veteran cotton cropping manager Myles Parker.
“With yields up and cotton prices going from strength to strength its great news for the state’s cotton farmers,” Parker adds. “The region has been hard hit by heat, drought, and even flooding over the past couple of years, so a high value, high yielding crop is just what growers here needed,” he says.
Nationwide in Australia, estimates for the 2011 crop, which is harvested in March and April in the Southern Hemisphere, calls for more than 4 million bales. If optimum weather continues in New South Wales and other cotton producing states in eastern and western Australia, the country could produce a whopping 400,000 more bales than their previous record.
Crop value for the 2011 Australian cotton crop is expected to top $2.3 billion in U.S. dollars, nearly $3 billion in Australian dollars.
The resiliency of cotton is reflected in the Australian harvest. Despite heavy planting season rainfall and flooding, much of the late-planted cotton produced record yields. The late planting pushed cotton harvest back 3-4 weeks in eastern Australia.
"While most people will remember the start of this year as flood, cyclone, flood, the season has actually produced very good cotton growing conditions allowing for some recovery of crops that went under water," says Adam Kay, chief executive officer for Cotton Australia.
In addition to the record 2.3 million bales expected to come from New South Wales, another 1.8 million bales, also a record, are expected from Queensland state, south of New South Wales.
Cotton harvest will likely end in Australia by June 1, or about the time the latest cotton is planted in the U.S.
While the 4 million bale Aussie harvest won’t significantly change the makeup of world cotton production, similar and larger increases in India, Pakistan and Brazil will create big number changes in 2011.
The average size of an Indian cotton farm is less than 10 acres and much of their cotton crop is still picked by hand. Despite the obvious obstacles, India is the second largest cotton producing country behind China.
In 2010 India didn’t just break a record for production, they blew it away, producing 26 million bales, more than 12 percent higher than their previous record crop of 23 million bales in 2009.
Speaking at the recent Southern/Southeastern cotton growers and ginners meeting, Hemang Goradia, general manager of Noble Cotton’s India operations, said optimism is high among cotton growers in his country.