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Australia's Cotton Crop Revised Downwards

03 December 2012
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

AUSTRALIA - Australia’s 2012-13 cotton crop has been revised downward (nearly six per cent) to 4.0 million bales. Planting of the 2012-13 cotton crop is largely complete with total area expected to be down by as much as 25-30% compared to last year.

Due to the record size of the 2011-12 crop ginning will not be completed until mid-December therefore final production figures will not be known until early in 2013.

In the Darling Downs, a key cotton-growing region, planting has finished with approximately 20,000 hectares of dryland and between 20,000 and 30,000 hectares of irrigated. This is approximately half of the area planted to cotton compared to the previous season. Over the weekend of the 17-18th November the region also suffered a severe hailstorm. Damage reports from the storm are still forthcoming but it is extremely unlikely that any damaged areas were replanted in cotton as the planting window closed on the 25th November.

Nationally, irrigated cotton area is expected to be down by approximately 22 per cent. Water storages levels are reported to be good therefore, barring any significant disease outbreaks or extreme weather events, irrigated cotton yields should be reasonably good. Dryland cotton area is projected to be down by as much as 50 per cent, accounting for only 12 per cent of total cotton area, compared to 20 per cent last year.

The overall decline in area reflects growers’ response to the decline in world cotton prices and (particularly in the case of dryland cotton) drier planting conditions. Additionally, after back-to-back record crops, there are limits to how much area can be re-planted to cotton year-on-year (which again, is particularly true in the case of dryland area). The shift in area planted is further supported by current high prices for alternative summer crops such as corn and sorghum.

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