By admin       2018-08-17

According to USDA’s first survey-based forecast of the 2018 cotton crop, U.S. production is estimated at 19.2 million bales, compared with July’s projection of 18.5 million bales and last season’s final estimate of 20.9 million bales. Compared with 2017, lower estimates for U.S. cotton harvested area and yield account for this season’s production decline. Based on the August forecast, total cotton planted area in 2018 is estimated at 13.5 million acres, the same as indicated in the June Acreage report but 7 percent (905,000 acres) above 2017; this season’s area is the largest since 2011 when 14.7 million acres were planted. Harvested area is projected at 10.1 million acres this season, indicating an abandonment rate of 25 percent, more than double 2017’s 12 percent and the highest in 5 years. The U.S. cotton yield is forecast at 911 pounds per harvested acre this season, slightly above 2017 and, if realized, would reach a new record. Upland cotton production in 2018 is forecast at nearly 18.5 million bales, 1.7 million bales below 2017. During the past 20 years, the August upland production forecast was above the final estimate 12 times and below it 8 times. Past differences between the August forecast and the final production estimates indicate that chances are two out of three for the 2018 upland crop to range between 17.1 and 19.8 million bales. Compared with 2017, U.S. upland production is projected higher in two of the four Cotton Belt regions in 2018, with the Southwest significantly lower and the West slightly lower. Based on the August estimates, 2018 Southwest upland production is expected to reach about 7.6 million bales (41 percent of the U.S. crop), down from last season’s 10.5-million-bale record and the smallest in 3 years. As a result of the drought conditions in the Southwest, a much lower harvested area is expected in 2018; abandonment is forecast at 40 percent for the region, well above last season’s 19 percent and the highest in 5 years. Meanwhile, the Southwest yield is projected at 737 pounds per harvested acre, above the 5-year average. In the Southeast, 2018 production is projected at nearly 5.6 million bales or 30 percent of the U.S. upland crop. While area in the region is at its largest in 7 years, yield and production are at their highest in 6 years. The Delta crop is forecast at 4.5 million bales this season—the largest since 2011—and accounts for 24 percent of U.S. cotton production. Area is similar to 2017 at 1.9 million acres, while the Delta yield is forecast at a record 1,142 pounds per harvested acre. For the West, upland production is projected at 805,000 bales in 2018, 3 percent below last season but still the second largest crop in 5 years. A reduction in area is nearly offset by a rebound in yield (1,469 pounds per harvested acre) that is slightly below average. In addition, extra-long staple (ELS) cotton production—grown primarily in the West—is forecast to increase in 2018 to 779,000 bales, the largest since a similar amount was produced in 2012. Although area is forecast lower in 2018, the ELS yield is forecast at 1,555 pounds per harvested acre, the second highest on record. Meanwhile, U.S. cotton crop development is near that of last year and the 5-year average. As of August 12, 77 percent of the cotton crop was setting bolls, equal to 2017 and marginally behind the 2013-17 average. In contrast, 2018 U.S. cotton crop conditions remain well below last season and the 5-year average. As of August 12, 40 percent of the crop area was rated “good” or “excellent,” compared with 61 percent last year, while 34 percent was rated “poor” or “very poor,” compared with 12 percent a year earlier. This season’s relatively low crop conditions are largely attributable to the extremely dry conditions experienced in the Southwest.

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