US cotton production forecasts at 17mn bales for 2012


According to USDA’s projections for the 2012 crop the U.S. cotton production forecast for 2012 remains at 17.0 million bales this month and is projected 1.4 million bales above the 2011 crop.  Despite a reduction in planted area based on the June Acreage report, the crop was left unchanged as abandonment and yield were adjusted based on current conditions.

While drought conditions are still prevalent across parts of the Cotton Belt this year, they are much improved from those in 2011.  Abandonment and yield projections are based on 2009-11 averages, weighted by region; however, harvested area is further adjusted to include estimated abandonment of 30 percent in the Southwest.

Based on the June Acreage report, U.S. producers indicated that they had planted or intended to plant more than 12.6 million acres to cotton in 2012, 4 percent below the March Prospective Plantings report and 14 percent below 2011.  Although planted area is below last season, harvested area is projected 10 percent higher at 10.4 million acres.

Improved moisture and crop conditions in the Southwest—compared with last season—are expected to reduce abandonment dramatically from 2011 when the region lost over 60 percent of the intended area.  Nationally, U.S. abandonment for 2012 is projected at 18 percent (2.2 million acres), above the long term-average of 13 percent.

The projected 012 abandonment compares with a record of 36 percent (5.3 million acres) set last season; the previous abandonment record of 27 percent occurred in 1933.

Upland cotton area projections are lower for each region of the Cotton Belt for 2012, ranging from 11 percent to 22 percent lower, as higher alternative crop prices provided the incentive to reduce cotton area.  Area in the Southwest was reported at about 7.2 million acres (11 percent lower); this region is expected to have an above average abandonment once again in 2012.

In the Southeast and Delta regions, area is estimated at about 2.7 million acres (22 percent lower) and 2.1 million acres (13 percent lower), respectively.  Upland area in the West is estimated to decline 20 percent from 2011 to 400,000 acres.  In addition, extra-long staple area—most of which is in the West—is expected to reach 235,000 acres, 23 percent below 2011.

U.S. cotton crop development in 2012 continues ahead of both last season and the 5-year average.  As of July 8th, 70 percent of the crop was squaring, compared with 56 percent a year earlier and the 5-year average of 64 percent.  Likewise, area setting bolls had reached 23 percent as of early July, compared with 18 percent in 2011 and the 2007-11 average of 19 percent.

Meanwhile, early season U.S. cotton crop conditions are above the corresponding period from last year and similar to the 5-year average.  As of July 8th, 44 percent of the U.S. area was rated “good” or “excellent,” compared with 28 percent last season, while only 18 percent was rated “poor” or “very poor,” compared with 42 percent in 2011.

The U.S. yield is currently projected at 785 pounds per harvested acre, slightly below last season’s final estimate.  In August, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will publish its first survey-based results for 2012 cotton production.

Cotton Demand and Stocks Revised

As the start of the 2012/13 season approaches, demand projections for the upcoming season were revised slightly this month; 2012/13 total U.S. cotton demand is forecast at 15.5 million bales, 600,000 bales above the latest 2011/12 estimate.

U.S. exports for 2012/13 were increased 300,000 bales this month as higher projected foreign import demand is expected to support exports of 12.1 million bales.  U.S. mill demand for 2012/13 was reduced slightly to 3.4 million bales, reflecting recently reported mill activity that reduced the 2011/12 estimate this month.

Despite global cotton trade being projected smaller in 2012/13, the U.S. share of world trade is forecast to rebound from 2011/12.  Larger U.S. exportable supplies are expected in 2012/13 as is less competition from some of the major cotton producers that reduced area.

Based on the current projections, the U.S. share of world trade is forecast at 32 percent, between last season’s 27 percent and 2010/11’s 39 percent.

Based on the latest supply and demand estimates, 2012/13 stocks are forecast to rise for the second consecutive season from 3.3 million bales when the season begins on August 1st, to 4.8 million bales at season’s end.

Just as actual stocks are likely to increase in 2012/13, the stocks-to-use ratio is also expected to rise from 22 percent in 2011/12 to 31 percent in 2012/13, the highest in four seasons.  The 2012/13 upland farm price is expected to range between 60 and 80 cents per pound, compared with the 2011/12 estimate of 91 cents and 2010/11’s 81.5 cents.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)