China will more than double its cotton imports, says Ed Jernigan, president and CEO of Globecot, Inc., Memphis, TN.

The estimate is nearly 60% more than USDA's December predictions.

China has purchased around 5 million bales of cotton — 3.5 million from the U.S. says Jernigan. He predicts China's cotton consumption will be a record 31.5 million bales. China has produced around 21 million bales and will not allow stocks below 8 million bales according to Jernigan.

To compete in this market, he says U.S. cotton producers will need fiber quality above the 1116 length that has become the U.S. standard. Base cotton quality is 1332 in the rest of the world, and U.S. cotton is now discounted, he adds.

Jernigan predicts this year's global demand for cotton will only be exceeded by even larger demand in 2004-05. “This bodes well for the U.S. producer,” says Jernigan.