New York: US cotton production is expected to drop to a 10-year low but output in India is likely to climb in the 2008-09 season, a senior American cotton industry official said on Saturday.
Gary Adams, vice-president of economics and policy analysis for the main industry group, the National Cotton Council of America (NCC), said that US cotton growers were projected to produce 15.4 million bales in the 2008-09 marketing year (August-July). That would be the lowest US cotton crop since the 13.9 million bales harvested in 1998-99 and 19% below the 2007-08 US cotton crop estimated by the agriculture department’s February monthly supply-demand report at 19.03 million bales.
The fall in US cotton production will be a direct result of the decline in plantings by American farmers this year. An NCC survey forecast US cotton sowings at 9.5 million acres, a 25-year low and down from 10.847 million acres planted last year and the 15 million acres two years ago.
Farmers are switching to grains such as soya bean and wheat after the prices of those crops soared to multi-year highs. Adams said that Indian cotton output would continue to expand in the 2008-09 season.
He said the country’s production “has more than doubled in the last five years and is estimated at almost 25 million bales in 2007”.
The main driver has been improved yields, which have soared from an average 270 pounds (lbs) or 121.5kg an acre in 2002 to over 500 lbs in 2007, Adams said. The US February supply data put Indian cotton output at 24.5 million bales in 2007-08, with exports at 5.7 million bales.
Adams said Indian production in 2008-09 will hit more than 26 million bales and he expected it to remain a significant exporter—with perhaps as much as seven million bales. India has emerged as a top competitor of US cotton exports to China, the world’s top consumer of cotton.