Australia's cotton crop will get even bigger next season, as
good returns prompt farmers to continue increasing sowings, US officials said.
The US Department of Agriculture's bureau in Canberra
forecast 2017-18 cotton production at 5.0m bales, up from 4.6m bales in the
previous season, thanks to "attractive cotton prices, cheap water and strong
"These factors encouraged Australian cotton growers to
increase plantings for the 2017-18 season and the share of dryland cotton has
increased significantly," the bureau said.
Cotton production is now forecast at the second highest level
on record, representing a huge increase from the crop of just 2.30m bales seen
back in 2014-15 crop year.
Increase in area
The recent boom in production is down to increased area, as
farmers up plantings thanks to good returns, with harvested area also seen at
near record levels.
"In recent years,
cotton farms have extended further into New South Wales in competition with
rice, citrus and summer crops such as sorghum," the bureau said.
But the bureau warned that this increase in sowings means a
greater portion of the crop is now planted on unirrigated land, which could make
the crop more vulnerable to any unwelcome weather developments.
Cotton exports from Australia are forecast at 4.8m bales in
2017-18, up 600,000 bales year-on-year, thanks to "greater production and strong
China is still expected to be remain the main destination
for Australian exports, but the bureau noted that "high levels of stocks have
reduced demand in recent years".
But fresh demand is emerging from the Indian textile industry.
The bureau notes that 25% of exports in 2016-17 went to
India, compared to only 2-3% in previous years.