U.S. cotton exports for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 marketing years were adjusted upward in September based on a reduced unaccounted estimate for each year that more closely reconciles reported cotton stocks with related supply and demand data. The unaccounted estimate has grown in recent years, indicating a cotton balance sheet discrepancy. The estimates for production, mill use, and stocks have maintained their consistency over this time, but a growing percentage difference has occurred between the cotton export sources—the U.S. Census Bureau and USDA’s U.S. Export Sales reports (fig. 1).
The variation between Census and USDA export data averaged 2 percent during 2007/08-2016/17. Beginning in 2017/18, the difference reached 5.5 percent and climbed to nearly 8 percent in 2018/19. As a result, these export estimates were further reviewed—given the reported stocks and implied unaccounted estimates—resulting in revised exports equal to the average reported by the two sources.