Obviously, exports will drop off just because there’s not enough to go around. We’re getting the ending stocks number down by about 1 million bales, and that gives us a much friendlier number for our stocks-to-use ratio. Not as friendly as we’d like to see it, but definitely better than it was in 2007 and 2008. We have seen prices in the 70 to 80-cent range as that stocks-to-use number has improved.”

World cotton production has fallen in the past couple of years, says Riley. “Producers throughout the world cut back in 2008 and 2009 just as we did in the United States, and now production has picked back up from a global standpoint. But it has slowly declined in recent years. Mill use, for the most part, has hung in there.

“If you think back to the high inventory numbers, cotton prices were under pressure, and it was time to buy. Even as we’ve come up in price, we’re still seeing an increase in global mill use. That has everything to do with an improving U.S. and global economy. Cotton demand has been picking up here in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well.”

Globally, production was at 120 million bales in 2012 and is projected at 117 million bales in 2013, he says. Mill use has been about 12 to 15 million bales less than global production in the past couple of years, so not surprisingly, ending stocks are growing.

phollis@farmpress.com