During the last half century, cotton production has had its share of ups and downs, although this year’s cotton production is expected to be near what it was more than 50 years ago. Cotton demand has also been variable, but most striking is the shift in where the cotton is processed. Traditionally, domestic demand in the form of purchases by U.S. cotton mills dominated U.S. cotton demand, but in recent years export demand has become as dominant as domestic demand used to be.
US cotton production in 1960 was 14.2 million bales and is projected to be about 1 million bales lower in 2013 at 13.1 million bales. But during that 53-year period U.S. cotton production has been as low as 7.4 million bales (1967) and as high as 23.9 million bales (2005), with year-to-year swings of 2 million bales up or down not uncommon. Since the peak in 2005, cotton has lost out to corn and soybeans in the competition for row crop acres.
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Cotton production in the U.S. accounted for 31.6 percent of world cotton production in 1960, falling to 11.2 percent for the 2013 crop year. During that period, non-U.S. cotton production grew from 30.8 million bales to 103.3 million bales.
Read more on the drastic changes in U.S. cotton markets.