PRINTABLE VERSION   EMAIL TO A FRIEND   RSS FEEDS 11:27 UK, 5th Apr 2017, by William Clarke
Australian cotton crop to hit near-record levels

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 overseas demand".

"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.

Strong demand

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 international demand".

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.

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