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World Cotton Production Shows Nuanced Shifts

While there hasn’t been much fluctuation of cotton production among major producers over the past four years, there has been some notable movement of late for them and some second-tier growers.

The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report showed a small decrease in 2021-2022 world production, down 300,000 bales to 119.9 million.

Among top producers, the biggest changes to production were for No. 2 grower India, with a decline of 500,000 bales to 26.5 million for the current crop year, and Mexico, a lesser producer, up 150,000 bales to 1.2 million.

Jon Devine, senior economist at Cotton Incorporated, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could have implications for planting with cotton acreage not increasing as much as was forecast just a few weeks ago. Devine noted in his monthly cotton market report that Russia and Ukraine are both Top 10 producers of competitive crops to cotton–wheat, corn and soybeans–but are not notable cotton producers such as nearby Uzbekistan.

USDA data forecasts No. 1 producer China growing 27 million bales this season, which would be down from the 29.5 million bales its farmers grew in the 2020-2021 crop year and just off the 27.5 million bales produced in the country four years ago.

India’s production projection would be down from the 27.6 million bales grown there last year and 29 million bales produced in the 2017-2018 season. The United States is expected to grow and cultivate 17.6 million bales his year, a jump of 3 million bales from the 2020-2021 season, but down from 20.9 million bales produced four years ago.

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The USDA forecasts No. 4 producer Brazil to make 13.2 million bales of cotton this season, an increase from 10.8 million bales grown last year and from the 9.2 million bales produced in 2017-2018.

Among second-tier cotton producers, Pakistan is set to grow 5.8 million bales this season, up from 4.5 million bales last year, but dropping from 8.2 million bales grown four years ago. Australia’s production is forecast to grow to 5.5 million bales this year from 2.8 million bales last year and 4.8 million bales in 2017-2018.

Turkey is expected to produce 3.8 million bales this year compared to 2.9 million bales last season and 4 million bales four year ago. Uzbekistan, which is no longer under a boycott by a coalition of retail trade associations, human-rights organizations and investor groups after the International Labor Organization said it was now free of child and forced labor, is forecast to produce 3.4 million bales this season, on par with last year and down from 3.9 million bales grown four years ago.

While it lost its U.S. export trade benefits under the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) on Jan. 1, Mali is forecast to see its cotton production jump to 1.4 million bales this season from 300,000 bales in 2020-2021, and bringing it back to the same level of four years ago. It would put Mail just below Benin, forecast to grow 1.5 million bales, the same as last year and up from 1.1 million bales in 2017-2108.

Mali lost its AGOA benefits along with Ethiopia and Guinea. When the recommendation was announced in early November, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the administration was “deeply concerned by the unconstitutional change in governments in both Guinea and Mali.”