World cotton production to decline in 2012/13
The first U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cotton forecast for 2012/13 projects that global cotton production will decrease while consumption rebounds, although consumption remains below production for the third consecutive season.
Global 2012/13 production is forecast at 116.7 million bales, a decline of 5 percent from a year ago, as declining cotton prices, higher production costs, and rising grain prices combine to give a competitive edge to alternative crops.
With world 2012/13 harvested area forecast to decline 5 percent from a year ago to 33.9 million hectares, yields are projected at 750kg/hectare. In nearly all major producing countries, production is forecast to decline in 2012/13.
In China, where 2012/13 planting is currently underway, the crop is forecast at 30.5 million bales, down 9 percent from a year ago. Although China's spot prices for the fiber are above world prices, strong official support for grain production, growing national reserve stocks, labor shortages and the attendant rising costs of cotton production have interacted to create a disincentive to producers.
In addition, even at unusually high Government support prices, farmers still saw a significant decline in prices received in 2011/12, with support prices significantly below the peak prices received in the fall of 2010. As a result, China's harvested area is forecast at 5.0 hectares in 2012/13, a 9-percent decline from the previous year, with an expected yield of 1,328 kg/ha. In recent years, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has accounted for 40-50 percent of China's total production.
India's 2012/13 production is forecast at 25.0 million bales, a 6-percent contraction from a year earlier as farmers respond to relatively lower world prices. The 2012/13 crop forecast is based on an assumption of a favorable monsoon in a country where a significant portion of the crop is rainfed. India's harvested area is forecast at 11.0 million hectares, down 10 percent from a year earlier.
Pakistan is forecast to grow 10.0 million bales in 2012/13, down 6 percent from the previous year. The government of Pakistan has recently approved use of biotech and new cotton varieties. Pakistan's 2012/13 harvested area is forecast to decline 3 percent from a year ago to 3.1 million hectares. USDA has adjusted its estimate of the average Pakistan bale weight to 155 kilograms.
Australia and Brazil are forecast to produce 4.5 million bales and 8.0 bales, respectively, in 2012/13. For Australia, the crop forecast is a 4-percent reduction from the record 2011 season, while in Brazil it is a 12-percent contraction from the previous season. Harvested area in Australia is forecast at 500,000 hectares, down 14 percent from the previous year due partly to price disincentive and a reduction in dryland cultivation. With irrigated plantings accounting for a larger share of area, Australia's 2012/13 yield is forecast at 1,960 kg/ha, the highest in 5 years. Brazil's 2012/13 harvested area is forecast at 1.2 million hectares down 14 percent from a year ago, as producers divert area toward the less risky and more profitable soybean crop.
In the United States, 2012/13 production is forecast to rise 9 percent from previous year's weather-damaged crop, to 17.0 million bales. Harvested area in the United States is forecast at 4.3 million hectares, down 8 percent from the previous year.