Australian cotton crop seen at record 4.4-4.5 million bales
Dated- 06 May , 2012 - Australia
Australia, the world's No 3 cotton exporter, will harvest a record 4.4-4.5 million bales this season thanks to good growing conditions and increased acreage encouraged by firm global prices, industry body Cotton Australia said on Tuesday.
"As an industry, we are about 40 percent complete with picking.
We think the size of the crop is going to be around 4.4-4.5 million bales, breaking last year's record of 4.1 million bales," Adam Kay, chief executive officer of Cotton Australia said.
Kay said the record harvest has been driven by two factors - the availability of water and the strong price of cotton that acted as an incentive to switch crops.
Australia has experienced two consecutive wet summer seasons brought on by a La Nina weather system.
The high level of rainfall has encouraged larger rain-driven cotton, grown without irrigation, which Kay said accounts for approximately 40 percent of the 2011/12 crop.
Virtually of Australia's cotton harvest will be exported, with 70 percent heading to China, Kay said.
Global cotton prices have proved volatile in recent months.
New-crop December cotton futures on the ICE Futures US exchange traded at 86.5 cents per pound on Tuesday, a near five-month low.
News that India's, the world's second largest cotton exporter behind the United States, is resuming cotton exports and heavy rain in the key growing area of Texas, which traders believe will see a bloat supplies, weighed.
Cotton hit a peak above 107 cents per pound in June last year, just before the current Australian crop was planted.
Despite the fall-back in cotton prices, Kay said he expects the record cotton crop to generate approximately A$2.5 billion ($2.6 billion) of export income.
In Australia, one bale equals 500 pounds.
Bale weights vary in other cotton producing countries due to differing moisture content when cotton is compressed.