U.S. cotton ending stocks now sit at a record low 1.6 million bales, according to USDA’s monthly supply-demand report, issued April 8.

The USDA reduced old crop — 2010 — cotton ending stocks to 1.6 million bales versus 1.9 million in the March estimate. Last year's production was lowered 215,000 bales and mill use was increased 100,000 bales. Exports were unchanged.

“The record low ending stocks have pushed prices to historic highs — the highest in 150 years,” said Scott Stiles, Extension economist-risk management. “Old crop prices were trading around $2 and 2011 prices were at $1.37 this morning after trading as high as $1.44 this week.

“These prices are the result of tight ending stocks. The lower 2011 prices are based on the assumption producers will respond by planting more cotton this year. As revealed last week, Arkansas producers plan to plant 85,000 more acres. U.S. acreage is expected to increase 1.59 million – or 15 percent.” (To see how far cotton has come in a few short years, visit http://southeastfarmpress.com/cottons-rich-heritage-could-pull-it-through.)

World cotton ending stocks were lowered to 41.55 million bales on lower production and higher consumption.