Favorable seasonal conditions have increased forecast Australian cotton production for 2012/13 to 4.3million bales and increased expected exports to 4.7million bales.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA
STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number: AS1309
Cotton and Products Annual 2013
Hugh Maginnis, Agricultural Counselor
Rebecca Gowen, Agricultural Specialist
Favorable seasonal conditions have increased forecast Australian cotton production for 2012/13 to
4.3million bales and increased expected exports to 4.7million bales. Harvesting has commenced with
early reports indicating good yields and high quality. Irrigated cotton once again accounts for the
majority of cotton produced in Australia while the area of dry-land cotton decreased by over 80 percent
due to competitive prices for grain. Production for 2013/14 is forward projected at 4.2 million bales
with exports of 4.3 million bales.
The 2012/13 Australian summer has been confirmed as the hottest on record with new extreme
temperature records set in every state and territory. Rainfall patterns have been varied with some areas
along the east coast receiving very high rainfall and flooding while other areas have remained very dry.
The preliminary April to June outlook is for higher than normal rainfall across cropping areas of
southern and eastern Queensland and northern and eastern New South Wales. However, model accuracy
is relatively low at this point and forecasts may change.
Figure 1 Australian rainfall outlook April – June 2013 (Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology)
Harvest of the 2012/13 Australian cotton crop has started in northern growing areas and will commence
shortly in other areas. The hot, dry conditions experienced over the Australian summer have created
ideal growing conditions for irrigated cotton with yield results that are expected to be very good.
Reports of yields up to 11 bales per hectare for early harvested irrigated cotton in Central Queensland
have been received. However the average across irrigated and dry-land systems in all growing areas is
expected to be lower at 9.8 bales per hectare, which is still well above the 5-year average of 8.7 bales
The total cotton harvested area in Australia for the 2012/13 year is forecast at 442,000 hectares which
equates to a total production of 4.3 million bales. This is an increase of 100,000 bales over the previous
estimate, and reflects the excellent growing conditions experienced by many growers. However, the
2012/13 crop is still 12 percent smaller than the record crop of 5.5 million bales grown in 2011/12.
Irrigated cotton once again accounts for the majority of cotton produced in Australia with 95 percent of
the 2012/13 crop grown under irrigation. The area planted to dry-land cotton in 2012/13 fell by over 80
percent compared to 2011/12 due to relatively higher grain prices which encouraged growers to switch
to growing crops such as sorghum. Yields for dry-land cotton will be significantly lower than irrigated
cotton yields as rainfall over the growing season was below average.
Estimates of harvested area and production figures for irrigated and dry-land cotton for the two cotton
producing states, New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD), are shown in Table 1.
Table 1 Australian cotton production by system and state
A Lint rea irrigated Area dry Seed Average yield Average yield
(000ha) (000ha) ('000t) lint (t/ha) seed (t/ha)
W 273 11 2,860 882 2.2 3.11
D 147 12 1,470 450 2.03 2.87
419 23 4,330 1,332
Rainfall during the first half of the 2012/13 Australian summer was well below average. However, late
season rains combined with stored water that was carried over from the previous two very high rainfall
years means that both public and private storage levels are above average for this time of year.
Accordingly, early projections for the 2013/14 Australian cotton crop are an estimated 435,000hectares
to be planted. Harvest of the same area at an average yield of 9.65 bales per hectare would result in total
production of 4.2 million bales. Water allocations from public storages for the 2013/14 cropping area
have not yet been made, but will be a determinant of planting decisions for irrigated cotton growers who
do not have sufficient on farm storage. Final yields will be determined by intra-seasonal weather
conditions, which also determine the likely impact of pests and disease. Grain prices are forecast to
remain above historical averages. This is expected to restrain dry-land cotton plantings.
Figure 2 Key cotton water storage levels as at March 21, 20131
Production Supply and Demand Estimates
Cotton Australia 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014
Market Year Begin: Aug 2011 Market Year Begin: Aug 2012 Market Year Begin: Aug 2013
USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post
Area Planted 0 0 0 0 0
Area Harvested 580 600 445 442 435
Beginning Stocks 2,575 2,575 3,568 3,606 3,341
Production 5,500 5,495 4,200 4,300 4,200
Imports 0 0 0 0 0
MY Imports from U.S. 0 0 0 0 0
Total Supply 8,075 8,070 7,768 7,906 7,541
Exports 4,642 4,634 4,600 4,700 4,300
Use 40 40 40 40 40
Loss -175 -210 -175 -175 -175
Total Dom. Cons. -135 -170 -135 -135 -135
Ending Stocks 3,568 3,606 3,303 3,341 3,376
Total Distribution 8,075 8,070 7,768 7,906 7,541
1000 HA, 1000 480 lb. Bales, PERCENT, KG/HA
Murray Darling Basin Authority - http://www.mdba.gov.au/water/waterinstorage
Sunwater - http://www.sunwater.com.au/home/water-storage-levels
Australia typically exports over 90 percent of cotton produced. Therefore, virtually all of the increase in
estimated cotton production since the previous forecast is expected to be exported. Australian exports
of cotton are expected to reach 4.7 million bales in 2012/13. This reflects both the record crop produced
in 2011/12 and the high production forecast for 2012/13.
Often the amount of cotton exported from Australia appears to be greater than the amount produced.
This is because cotton bales absorb moisture between processing and export. Both industry and official
production and export figures are reported in tons, thus when converted to 480lb bale equivalents the
exported figure may appear to be greater than production.
Exports are expected to fall slightly to 4.3 million bales in 2013/14 based on lower production, yet are
expected to remain well above the 5 year average.
The key destinations for Australian cotton are China, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea and Bangladesh.
In 2011/12 these five destinations accounted for 94 percent of Australian exports. The same five
destinations accounted for 63 percent of United States cotton exports in the same year. Australia and the
United States rank in the top three importers for each of these countrie 2s but as shown in Figure 4, Brazil
and India are also major competitors in these import markets.
Figure 3 Export destinations for Australian and United States cotton
Excluding Bangladesh as similar import data was not available for comparison.
Figure 4 Cotton importers in 2012