Cotton planting decreases due to low prices

After a massive increase in production of more than 110% during the previous season, cotton plantings in South Africa have decreased by 25% due to low prices.

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In 2010/2011, driven by record high world cotton prices, which went up from a 10-year average of about R9/kg to R24/kg in 2011, the cotton area under production increased from about 8 000ha to 17 000ha. But, according to Cotton SA CEO Hennie Bruwer, with the price for cotton currently at around R16/ kg, plantings for the 2011/2012 season decreased to just over 13 400ha.

Another reason for this, he added, is the more favourable prices of other competing summer crops such  as maize. Meanwhile, the outlook for cotton producers in the Northern Cape has improved somewhat. Plantings in the Modder River, Douglas and Prieska regions decreased from 3 400ha to around 2 600ha, but farmers are expecting average yields of between 5t/ha and 5,5t/ha compared to last year’s average of 4t/ha.

“Last year was a very bad year for cotton because of unseasonal rainfall and very cold conditions. We were worried early on that this season would also be a difficult one because of unusually cold weather during planting in September, but the crop has recovered well,” explained Wilbur Rudman, the chief operational officer for cotton at GWK’s cotton gin at Modder River.
Yields of between 4,8t/ ha and 5t/ha are expected, but the quality appears to be better than last year, added Louis Olivier, managing director of Vaalharts Cotton.

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The International Cotton Advisory Committee expects world cotton production to decline by 7% to 25 million tons, but cotton consumption to increase by 4% to just over 24 million tons, driven by improving economic growth and lower cotton prices.