2020 ends with optimism, but new COVID-19 variant casts shadow

• By Seshadri Ramkumar •

texas cotton
Photo courtesy Texas A&M AgriLife

As COVID-19 has affected the normal life and the economy, how have the cotton and textile sectors fared?

The year was supposed to end with a positive news that two vaccines have been approved for mass inoculation. But the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, which has shown up recently in the United Kingdom, is causing genuine concern. With two major holidays around the corner, how the developing situation will affect the global economy and the cotton-textiles sector will be carefully watched.

Reduction in crop production estimate in the United States and interest in cotton products bring out optimism among stakeholders. “Increase in yarn prices in India has boosted confidence in the sector,” said Velmurugan Shanmugam, general manager of Aruppukottai, India-based Jayalakshmi Textiles.

“Global demand looks much better than a few months ago. Recent surveys of textile manufacturers conducted by the ITMF have described continual improvement since April, observed,” said Jon Devine, senior economist at Cary, North Carolina-based Cotton Incorporated.

Significant decrease in this years’ production in the High Plains of Texas, which is the world’s largest contiguous patch, is helping with the rebound in prices. This area will produce about 2.3 million to 2.5 million bales (480 pounds each) this year compared to 2019 production of 3.051 million bales.

“The 2020 crop on the Texas High Plains has been severely impacted by dry conditions throughout the growing season,” said Shawn Wade, director of policy analysis and research at Plains Cotton Growers Inc.

Harvest is almost finished, and 90% of ginning is completed in the High Plains area.

“Yields are disappointing but overall quality is good,” said Mark Brown, field services director at Plains Cotton Growers Inc.

Average micronaire has been low in the High Plains compared to 2019 due to cold weather in September.

“Overall quality is good with strength averaging at 30.5 g/tex and length little bit better than last year,” said Danny Martinez, area director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Lubbock Cotton Classing Office.

Ginning season was affected by COVID-19, but ginners worked hard to carry on ginning to finish. 2020 is ending with optimism for the cotton and textile sectors with interest in cotton and a rebound in cotton and yarn prices.

Again, how the emerging coronavirus variant will impact is yet to be seen.

Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar is president of the Texas Tech University Faculty Senate and professor, Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory. He may be reached at s.ramkumar@ttu.edu.

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