US cotton production projected to increase 12% in 2017

US cotton output this year is forecast at 19.2 million bales, nearly 12 per cent above the final 2016 estimate, according to USDA’s initial projection for the 2017 crop. Based on the Prospective Plantings report, 2017 cotton area is estimated at 12.23 million acres, 2.2 million acres above 2016, due to higher prices of cotton relative to competing crops.

Area for both upland and extra-long staple (ELS) cotton is forecast to expand in 2017. For the upcoming season, upland acreage is projected higher in each of the Cotton Belt regions. Based on Prospective Plantings, the Southwest upland area is estimated at 7.4 million acres, above last year’s six million acres and the second highest since the early 1980s. The Southwest is forecast to account for 62 per cent of the upland area in 2017, slightly above last season’s 61 per cent. Cotton acreage in the Southeast is expected to approach 2.5 million acres in 2017, nearly 14 per cent above last season but equal to the 5-year average.

In the Delta, 2017 cotton area is forecast to increase for the second consecutive season to 1.8 million acres as acreage returns to near the 10-year average. The Delta is expected to account for 15 per cent of the US upland acreage in 2017, similar to the previous season. In the West, improved irrigation supplies for the 2017 spring-planted crops—in addition to favourable prices—are expected to boost cotton area there. ELS cotton remains concentrated in the West, where over 90 per cent of the 232,000-acre total is expected to be planted in 2017. California will continue as the dominant ELS-producing state, contributing 190,000 acres of the total.

As of early May, moisture conditions across the Cotton Belt are more favourable this season, although parts of the Southeast have experienced some dry conditions, the Economic Research Service of the US department of agriculture (USDA) said in its latest ‘Cotton and Wool Outlook’ report.

US cotton harvested area for 2017 is projected at nearly 11.4 million acres, 20 per cent above the 2016 estimate of 9.5 million acres. The national yield is projected at 810 pounds per harvested acre and is based on the 2012-16 crop average yields, weighted by region. The initial US yield estimate is below last season’s final estimate due to the proportionally larger increase in lower-yielding Southwest acreage in 2017.

Meanwhile, US cotton demand (mill use plus exports) in 2017-18 is forecast 2 per cent lower at 17.4 million bales, as reduced exports account for the decline. US cotton mill use for 2017-18 is estimated above 2016-17 at 3.4 million bales, supported by demand for US cotton textile product exports.

Cotton stocks are forecast at 5.0 million bales on July 31, 2018, the highest since 2008-09. However, the 2017-18 stocks-to-use ratio (29 per cent) is forecast between last season’s 18 per cent and 2015-16’s 30 per cent. Based on these initial supply and demand projections, the 2017-18 US upland farm price is expected to range between 54 cents and 74 cents per pound. At the midpoint of the range, the farm price would be 5 cents below the 2016-17 estimate of 69 cents per pound. 

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