Cotton Outlook Seen Improving in Australia After Floods, Rains

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Flooding and heavy rainfall caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald that may damage some cotton crops in Australia, the world’s fourth-biggest shipper, will boost production in other regions, according to a growers’ group.

“In overall terms, the area of cotton affected by the most recent downpour is reasonably small,” Cotton Australia Chief Executive Officer Adam Kay said in a statement today. While so-called waterlogging may have a short-term impact on crops in some areas, this will be balanced by higher yields and better fiber quality, he said.

Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes and hundreds more are isolated by floodwaters in rural settlements across Queensland and New South Wales. Other states are still battling bushfires after temperatures soared to a record this month. While floods in eastern Australia last year damaged some cotton crops, production surged to a record 1.2 million tons in as rains boosted water supplies.

“In most areas where rain has not reached disaster flooding levels, the additional water has been a boon for cotton farmers, bringing last-minute relief to allow crops to reach full yield and quality potential and replenishing water supplies for future irrigation,” Kay said. “We’ve had such a hot summer that many growers were behind in their irrigation and had already used the bulk of their water allocations.”

Production may be 4 million bales of 227 kilograms, Kay said today, from an estimated 5.3 million bales in 2012. Cotton harvesting is expected to begin in Emerald, Queensland, about the end of February, with the bulk of picking in late March and early April, according to today’s statement.

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