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Commodity Intelligence Report
August 11, 2017

China: 2017/18 Cotton Production Outlook

China’s major summer season crops include rice, corn, soybeans, peanuts, and cotton. The optimum planting window for these crops is typically April through May. Cotton planting started in April and continued through May, and the majority of the crops are now at various stages of early growth and development. The majority (approximately 52 percent) of China’s cotton crop is grown in Xinjiang province; the rest is grown in the yellow river basin (Hebei, Shandong, and Jiangsu) and in the North China plain. Moisture conditions have been generally favorable across the country. Early in the season the major growing regions received average to above-average rainfall, resulting in favorable conditions for planting and early plant growth. In the Yellow River Basin Plain and in North China, precipitation for the months of April and early May was generally normal with some localized dryness. In Xinjiang province, however, the cotton crop is mostly irrigated and early crop conditions are favorable. The graph below depicts satellite-derived vegetation index or NDVI (normalized difference vegetation indices) over the major cotton growing prefecture of Aksu in Xinjiang province, and indicates favorable crop growth and potentially higher yield.


USDA forecasts China cotton production for 2017/18 at 24.5 million 480-pound bales (5.33 million metric tons), up 0.5 million bales or almost 2 percent from last year and 8 percent from last year. Yield is estimated at a record 1,707 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha), down slightly from last year’s record and up 11 percent from the 5-year average of 1,537 kg/ha. Yields have been increasing since 2010/11 due to the expansion of area in Xinjiang province, a more productive cotton region. In recent years the average yields in Xinjiang have been around 1,832 kg/ha, higher than yields in eastern provinces of Shandong, Hebei and Anhui.
China’s cotton area has been declining since 2011/12 due largely to changes in government agricultural policies aimed at managing excessive cotton stockpiles. The reduction of cotton subsidies in the inland provinces has resulted in lower profits for cotton farmers and a subsequent reduction in planted area. After several years of decreasing area the pattern changed this year. The 2017/18 cotton area is estimated at 3 million hectares, up 5 percent from last year but down 25 percent from the 5-year average.


Since the introduction of the new cotton policies, cotton area has declined at a more rapid pace in eastern China than in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. Recent government and private industry reports indicate continued significant reductions in area in the major producing provinces in the east, including Hebei and Shandong, but expectations are for modest area increases in Xinjiang and Hubei provinces, which will likely offset the overall area decline. (For more information, contact

Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.

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For more information contact Dath Mita | | (202) 720-7339
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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