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Commodity Intelligence Report
October 20, 2017

Mexico Cotton: Harvest begins, Estimated Production Increases from Last Year



Mexico is ranked within the top 15 countries in the world for domestic cotton production. Cotton in Mexico is mainly produced in Chihuahua which represents about 63 percent of total production, followed by Baja California (18 percent), Coahuila (11 percent), Sonora (5 percent) and Durango (2 percent). Cotton is planted in two seasons, spring/summer and fall/winter; however, approximately 95 percent of production is planted during the spring/summer season. The spring/summer crop is typically planted from April through July and harvested August through January; fall/winter planting takes place November through January and then harvested in April through May. Irrigation is the primary water source, but farmers also rely on seasonal rainfall throughout the growing cycle(s) to maintain healthy crop conditions.

In early September, personnel from the Foreign Agriculture Service in Washington, D.C. and USDA’s Office of Agricultural Affairs in Mexico City travelled to the states of Durango and Coahuila, Mexico, to assess the current cotton crop. Cotton in this region is predominantly produced on the central boarder of the two states, also known as the Laguna region. The Laguna region represents about 13 percent of Mexico’s total cotton production. The focus of our crop travel was to determine what factors resulted in the increased planting this year compared to last year, how the cotton crop had fared through the growing season, to obtain resources for future on-the-ground crop validation, and to explore the growth potential for cotton in the region.

Cotton Area

The Laguna region is comprised of 5 municipalities in Coahuila and 10 municipalities in Durango. This region on average plants approximately 15,000 hectares to cotton. In 2016, however, planted area decreased to about 11,000 hectares due mainly to the low market prices for cotton and minimal government subsidies. Farmers opted to plant cotton acres to alfalfa, sorghum, corn and forage. In 2017, planted area rebounded to an estimated 17,000 hectares, reflecting a 55 percent increase from last year as reported from local sources. The main factors that attributed to the increase in planted area were more water availability compared to last year (up 40 percent), attractive prices compared to competing crops, hybrid seed provisions, and better pest management practices.


Cotton farmers’ planting intentions are guided by water availability as irrigation is the primary water source. To aid in planting decisions, farmers rely on the government’s national water commission (CONAGUA) to release reports on reservoir levels. Water that supplies the Laguna region flows from the El Pamito Mountain which feeds into 2 reservoirs, the Lazaro Cardinas (main) and the Fransico Zarco (overflow). In an average year farmers can use irrigation four times a season – once for pre-planting and three additional times during the growing season (an additional time could be used depending on water availability).

Planted area for cotton increased in other states as well, according to official planting progress reports. As of August 30, 2017, the Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria y Pesquera (SIAP) reported 189,000 hectares of cotton was planted for the spring/summer cycle, up from 102,000 hectares at the same time in 2016, representing an 85 percent increase in planted area.

Cotton Growing Conditions

Planting in the Laguna region began in early April and progressed under favorable weather conditions. During the development stage when the water requirement is higher, cotton conditions were affected by hot and dry weather in June through July. Though ideal weather resumed after the adverse weather conditions, local farmers indicated the hot and dry period negatively impacted yield potential.

In addition, farmers reported localized incidences of white-fly which has caused minor damage. To help mitigate pest incidences, the usage of pheromone traps (as seen in picture 2) are implemented. These pheromone traps are monitored on a weekly basis to aide in the decision of when to spray pesticides. Cotton fields assessed during the trip were reported to have been sprayed with defoliation and were expected to start harvest by the end of September.



Adverse weather conditions during the cotton development stage were isolated to a few areas, however in the major producing regions cotton benefited from better than average weather throughout the growing season.

Cotton Production

USDA estimates Mexico 2017/18 cotton production at 1.45 million bales (480-pound bales), up 90 percent from last year and up 45 percent from the 5-year average. The substantial year-to-year increase in production is derived from an increase in planted area combined with favorable weather conditions.

The contributions from the USDA Office of Agricultural Affairs in Mexico City, Mexico where the expertise from Lashonda McLeod (Senior Attaché) and Adriana Otero are gratefully acknowledged.

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 Justin Jenkins | | (202) 720-0419
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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