U.S. Cotton-Crop Forecast Cut 3.6% by USDA After Texas Drought

The U.S. Department of Agriculture trimmed its forecast for the domestic cotton crop by 3.6 percent because of dry conditions in Texas, the biggest state grower. The cut beat analysts’ expectations.

In the 12 months starting Aug. 1, farmers may harvest 13.5 million bales, down from 14 million projected last month, the USDA said today in a report. On average, analysts and traders expected a drop to 13.98 million bales, a Bloomberg survey showed. A year earlier, the crop was 17.32 million bales. The U.S. is the world’s top exporter.

As of June 4, exceptional- or extreme-drought conditions spread in West Texas and north-central areas of the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Through yesterday, cotton futures in New York climbed 13 percent this year as the USDA projected a reduction in acreage after lower prices in 2012 prompted growers to shift to more-profitable crops including corn and soybeans.

“Early indications suggest the western half of the Cotton Belt may see drought conditions persist well into summer,” Gary Raines, a vice president of economics and analysis at FCStone LLC in Nashville, Tennessee, said in an e-mail. “This outlook is particularly troubling for abandonment prospects in Texas.”

U.S. exports may be 11 million bales in the 12 months that start Aug. 1, down from 13.6 million in the current season, the government said. Unsold supplies may drop to 2.6 million bales from 3.6 million, and yields may decline to 800 pounds per acre from 887 pounds.

World output will be 117.16 million bales, down from 120.97 million, the agency said. Consumption will be 110.17 million bales, up from 108.1 million. Stockpiles may be 92.49 million bales, up 8.9 percent from 84.93 million. A bale weighs 480 pounds, or 218 kilograms.

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