Bales of cotton in the gin warehouse. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images
2021/22 US exports are estimated to have fallen by more than 1.7 million bales from the previous year to 14.7 million bales, due to lower exportable supplies. Despite higher production, opening stocks in August 2021 were over 4.0 million bales lower than a year earlier, and depressed export volumes in the first half of the year of marketing. Higher domestic consumption and logistical constraints also limited shipments.
According to the USDA Export Sales Reporting (ESR), total 2021/22 shipments were 14.0 million bales, 700,000 bales less than the USDA forecast. As of marketing year 2017/18, the USDA calculates official exports as the midpoint between shipments from the ESR and the US Census Bureau. From August to June, census exports exceeded the ESR by more than 1.0 million bales.
For the second year in a row, China was the largest export market and accounted for about a third of US shipments according to ESR data. Most exports to China were for state reserves. Of the top ten export markets in 2021/22, Turkey, India and Peru recorded an increase in exports compared to the previous year.
2022/23 US exports are forecast to fall by more than 2.5 million bales due to significantly lower exportable supply than the previous year. Production in 2022/23 is expected to fall by around 5.0 million bales to 12.6 million due to drought conditions, particularly in Texas, which normally accounts for more than half of US plantings.