The boom in Australian cotton crop production will continue next season, as good returns prompt farmers to continue increasing sowing and as result the fibre wins acres from other crops, US officials said.
The US Department of Agriculture's bureau in Canberra forecast 2017-18 cotton production at 5.0m bales, up from 4.6m bales in the previous season, due to attractive cotton prices, cheap water and strong overseas demand.
The bureau said that these factors encouraged Australian cotton growers to increase plantings for the 2017-18 season and the share of dryland cotton has increased significantly.
Cotton production is now forecast at the second highest level on record, representing a huge increase from the crop of just 2.30m bales seen back in 2014-15 crop year.
In recent years, cotton farms have extended further into New South Wales in competition with rice, citrus and summer crops such as sorghum, the bureau said.
This increase in sowings means a greater portion of the crop is now planted on unirrigated land, which could make the crop more vulnerable to any unwelcome weather developments.
With greater production and strong international demand, Australian cotton exports are forecasted at 4.8m bales in 2017-18, up 600,000 bales year-on-year.
Also fresh demand is emerging from the Indian textile industry. The bureau notes that 25 percent of exports in 2016-17 went to India, compared to only 2-3 percent in previous years. But China is expected to be remain the main destination for Australian exports as high levels of stocks have reduced demand in recent years.
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