China Trade War, Draught Clip Cotton

Cotton field in Limestone County

The China trade war and draught will hit U.S. cotton growers hard again in 2020, including Alabama, the ninth largest producing state, where cotton is the largest row crop.

The trade war with China, the world’s largest producer of cotton, has caused prices for U.S. cotton to tumble, according to a report by

The U.S. share of the cotton imports going into China have also shrunk, from 45 percent in 2017 to 18 percent in 2018, according to the National Cotton Council.

“This lost market share has reduced overall export sales and shipments, further depressing U.S. cotton prices,” said NCC Vice President of Economics and Policy Analysis Jody Campiche.

And prices will remain depressed in 2020 and 2021, reported Textile Outlook International, which recorded a greater than 14 percent price drop in 2019-2020.

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Adding to the trade problem have been droughts in the U.S. In Alabama it was especially severe, with a third of the state cotton crop hit by hot, dry weather, which drew larger numbers of insect pests.

In spite of reduced prices and yields, U.S. cotton growers continue to plant more. In Alabama, acreage rose to 510,000 in 2018, compared to 460,000 acres in 2011, according to the National Agricultural Statistical Service.

The top cotton-producing counties in Alabama are Limestone, Madison, Lawrence, Monroe, Colbert, Escambia, Lauderdale, Cherokee, Baldwin and Geneva.

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