US cotton crop slightly higher in October
According to USDA's October Crop Production report, the 2011 U.S. cotton crop is estimated at 16.6 million bales, up marginally from last month's forecast but 1.5 million (8 percent) below the 2010 production. With harvested area unchanged this month and the national average yield slightly higher, the U.S. cotton crop estimate rose about 50,000 bales in October.
The 2011 U.S. upland cotton crop is estimated at 15.9 million bales, below both last season and the 5-year average. During the previous 20 years, the October forecast has been below final cotton production 13 times and above 7 times. Past differences between the October forecast and the final production estimate indicate that chances are 2 out of 3 that the 2011 U.S. upland crop will range between 15.1 and 16.6 million bales.
Upland cotton production this season is forecast to increase from recent years for each region of the Cotton Belt, except for the Southwest (fig. 2). In the Southwest, the 2011 upland cotton crop is forecast at 4.2 million bales, about half the level recorded last season and the lowest since the 2000 crop. The drought took its toll on the cotton crop there as harvested area and yield are forecast to be reduced significantly. Planted area abandoned is estimated at a record 58 percent, while the Southwest yield is forecast at 597 pounds per harvested acre, the lowest since 2003.
In the Southeast, a crop of 5.4 million bales is projected, the largest in a decade. Despite an above-average abandonment rate, harvested area is forecast at its highest in 5 years helping to offset a below-average yield. In the Delta, higher area for the second consecutive season helped push the crop forecast there to 4.8 million bales, the largest in 4 years. The Delta yield is estimated at 960 pounds per harvested acre—below a year ago but the third highest on record.
In the West, the 2011 upland cotton area and production are estimated to increase for the second consecutive season despite a reduction in yield. The upland crop is forecast at 1.5 million bales, the largest in 6 years. The extra-long staple (ELS) crop is mainly grown in the West, particularly California. ELS production is forecast at 737,000 bales, 46 percent above 2010, with California expected to account for 93 percent of the total.
Total 2011 U.S. cotton harvested area was estimated at about 9.85 million acres, below last season, despite planted area rising nearly 3.8 million acres to its highest in 5 years. However, the Southwest drought reduced harvestable area and crop potential. The U.S. cotton yield is forecast at 809 pounds per harvested acre, 3 pounds below 2010 and 10 pounds below the 5-year average.
2011/12 U.S. Demand and Stock Estimates Revised
U.S. cotton demand for the 2011/12 season was reduced this month as higher foreign production and lower import demand are projected to reduce U.S. exports. U.S. demand is currently forecast at 15.3 million bales, 500,000 bales below last month and the lowest since 1998/99. Exports accounted for all of the adjustment in October and are now forecast at 11.5 million bales, while U.S. mill use remains estimated at 3.8 million bales. In addition to reduced import demand, smaller U.S. exportable supplies are expected to limit shipments in 2011/12 to their lowest in a decade. As a share of global trade, U.S. exports are projected to account for only 31.5 percent of the total, the lowest since 2000/01.