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March 21, 2011

Cotton Exports from Brazil Expected to Set Record in 2011

The cotton crop in Brazil is still in vegetative development, but climatic conditions have been good since the crop was planted and Conab is estimating a record cotton production of 1.95 million tons for the 2010/11 growing season. The agency is also estimating that Brazil will export 630 thousand tons of cotton in 2011, which if realized, would also be a record for Brazil surpassing the old record of 532 thousand tons exported in 2008.

The three biggest importers of Brazilian cotton are Indonesia, South Korea and China with the largest increases in recent years coming from China. In 2003 China imported 17 thousand tons of Brazilian cotton. That increased to 77.5 thousand tons in 2005 and in 2010, they imported 84.5 thousand tons of Brazilian cotton.

Over the last decade, cotton production in Brazil has entered into a new phase. Up until the 1990's, most of Brazil's cotton was produced in the southern part of the country with low levels of technology, but that has changed in recent years as cotton production has moved in the center-west region of Brazil and into the state of Bahia. The cotton production in these new areas uses the latest technologies and the results have been very good yields and the production of high quality fiber.

In Mato Grosso, the full season cotton is planted during December with the safrinha cotton planted during the month of January. Harvesting of the crop in Mato Grosso generally starts in June and continues through July. In Bahia, the crop is planted later during January and February and harvesting occurs during July and August.

Farmers in Mato Grosso planted 669,100 hectares of cotton for the 2010/11 growing season, which represented 51% of Brazil's total cotton acreage. In Bahia, farmers planted 387,500 hectares which represents 30% of Brazil's cotton acreage.

When cotton was still produced in southern part of the country, Brazil needed to import cotton to meet its domestic demand. Now that cotton farmers have adopted the latest production practices, Brazil has become a net exporter of cotton and if cotton prices continue to remain strong, cotton acreage and production in Brazil is expected to continue increasing.