July 2014 Cotton Leader
SPOTLIGHT ON BELTWIDE GROWERS
Growers across the Cotton Belt are the backbone of the cotton industry in the United States. Each month Cotton Incorporated will showcase an interview with a cotton grower highlighting his or her production practices and any unique programs they are involved with in the raising of cotton on a new section of their Web site called “Spotlight on Beltwide Growers”. The interview of each grower will be available for reading on the Web site for one month. After that time, an interview with another grower will be posted. The interviews of the previous grower(s) will be archived in the Web site so they can be re-read at any time. The first spotlight features an interview with Cannon Michael of Bowles Farms in Dos Palos, California. In it, Cannon shares how Bowles Farms is using satellite imagery technology to manage variable and saline soil. To read the full interview with Michael, visit the “Fiber” section of www.cottoninc.com and click on the “Spotlight on Beltwide Growers” link.
NEW SUPPLY CHAIN SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM FOR U.S. CROPS
This month, Field to Market®, the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture announced the launch of a new agricultural supply chain program for U.S. commodity crops. The Field to Market metrics and benchmarks developed through a multi-stakeholder process over the past several years will now become an important platform for measuring, promoting and reporting on continuous improvement in corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, potatoes and other crops related to seven sustainability indicators: land use, soil conservation, soil carbon, irrigated water use, water quality, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The new program will focus on benchmarking current sustainability outcomes, catalyzing continuous improvement at the field and landscape level, and enabling supply chain sourcing claims. Cotton Incorporated is an active member of the Field to Market alliance. “The announcement signals a major commitment among members to address supply chain sustainability in a manner that is transparent, grounded in science, focused on outcomes and open to a full range of technology choices while considering productivity, environmental quality and human well-being,” said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market. “Over the next 40 years, the world is facing an unprecedented challenge to produce crops to provide for 9 billion people within the natural limits of our planet,” said Snyder. “The nature of this challenge requires an unusual level of transparency and collaboration, and today’s announcement is a pivotal step in achieving this vision at a necessary scale.”
UPDATING THE BLEACHING PROCESS
The current method of bleaching cotton to make it white before dying has been around for decades, but isn’t the most sustainable process. North Carolina State’s Department of Textiles is working in conjunction with Cotton Incorporated on a way to create white cotton fabric in a more environmentally-friendly way. “The traditional way to bleach cotton on a large scale involves high temperatures and aggressive chemicals at a high pH level. It takes a fair bit of time and leads to some damage of the cotton,” says David Hinks, North Carolina State. “One of the objectives of our research is to develop a process to get the equivalent whiteness of the cotton while reducing the amount of energy, chemistry and water used. It would be a neutral pH,” explains Hinks. The new process could create some consumer benefits, in addition to the environmental benefits. Mary Ann Ankeny, Senior Director of Textile Chemistry Research at Cotton Incorporated, said, “By creating a new bleaching process, we are able to maintain fabric strength. It’s easy to over process cotton and the conventional bleaching process tends to make it a little bit weaker. But because the new process is neutral, we are able to retain fabric strength and also retain a soft hand so its softer to the touch.” Hinks concludes, “We have been working on this Cotton Incorporated-funded project for a number of years now. We have taken it from the small lab scale, where we developed a bleach activator that we have patented, to pilot level trials that have been successful. The next stage is to run full production trials and assess the impact of the new process.”
National CineMedia (NCM), a leading integrated media company reaching U.S. consumers in movie theaters, online and through mobile technology, recently showed support for Cotton Incorporated’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ denim recycling program. NCMs showed a 75 second piece highlighting the successful denim recycling efforts of Erek Hansen, also known as Eco-Erek. This remarkable fourteen-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, has been contributing to the program since 2009 and has collected more than 20,000 pieces of denim for recycling. The video ran in AMC, Cinemark and Regal theaters across the U.S. June 27th through July 24th. To view the video please visit www.cottonboard.org/news/video-gallery/.
Both New York futures and the A Index trended sharply lower in recent weeks. Chinese and Indian prices were stable. Pakistani prices decreased. Over the past few weeks, December prices fell about ten cents/lb and marked new life-of-contract lows. Nearby prices are the lowest since June 2012. The A Index prices also decreased. This time of year, when the crop year changes and new supplies will soon come onto the market, Cotlook implements a dual price system that quotes prices for both the expiring and upcoming crop years. Currently, the conventional A Index describes prices for near-term delivery of 2013/14 supplies (shipment in July or August). This price series decreased five cents/lb in recent weeks and has been holding to values near 85 cents/lb. The “Forward A Index” describes prices for delivery in the coming crop year (shipment October-February). In the past few weeks, the Forward A Index lost eight cents/lb and has been trading below 78 cents/lb. In recent years, price movement could be explained through several principal factors. The most significant of these would be Chinese cotton policies that concentrated global supplies in China. This concentration was a function not only of China’s accumulation of reserves, but also of stronger Chinese demand for fiber and yarn imports that prevented stocks from accumulating elsewhere. Lower stocks outside China, which are generally considered available to the market, supported prices despite record volumes at the global level. Another factor that supported prices was the weather, with West Texas, the largest growing region in the U.S., suffering three successive years of extreme drought. It appears that these supportive factors will diminish in the coming crop year. West Texas has received above average rainfall this calendar year, and China has indicated it will no longer support growers through purchases by its reserve system. Chinese imports of fiber are expected to fall 40% and Chinese yarn import demand began to decrease last fall. Due to these factors, stocks outside of China are forecast to reach a new record in 2014/15 and the expected increase in available supply has already pushed prices lower. Developments involving growing conditions around the world and Chinese policy should determine whether recent decreases will be sustained or augmented.