Byline: Josephine J. Bow

HONG KONG — China’s 1994 cotton production, currently under harvest, is expected to recover from last year’s disastrous levels, but because of depleted reserves and soaring demand, the country will still be a net importer of the fiber next year.
This year’s harvest — which runs through the end of this month — may reach the projected target of 18.8 million bales, a 20 percent increase over 1993’s bollworm-infested crop that the government says yielded 15.7 million bales. However, both totals fall far below China’s record harvest of 26.1 million bales recorded in 1984. One bale is 480 pounds.
Cotton traders reported weather throughout China’s nine major cotton-producing provinces has been favorable and the bollworm problem was minimized by an early anti-insect campaign. Some flooding and drought this summer also had limited impact on cotton fields.
In a bid to encourage farmers to grow more cotton, the government earlier this year increased the state procurement price from 40 cents per pound to 53 cents per pound. Despite the incentives, government estimates for total 1994 acreage range from 5.25 million to 5.5 million hectares — less than the state target of six million hectares. A hectare is nearly 2 1/2 acres.
With domestic consumption and supplies to feed China’s seemingly uncheckable textile imports already topping 5 million tons — or nearly 21 million bales — Chinese mills are already preordering raw cotton from all over the world to avoid this year’s shortages.
China’s central cotton buying authorities imported some 1.9 million bales of raw cotton this season, including 1.3 million bales from the U.S., but were still unable to prevent mill closings all over the country. With the new crop due, prices have stabilized since August, with cotton being sold to textile mills for about 80 cents a pound, about 60 percent higher than before shortages first became apparent.
— Fairchild News Service

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