Cotton Output in Australia to Drop as Drought Curbs Planting

Cotton production in Australia, the world’s third-biggest exporter, may drop 9 percent this year as drought curbs planting in Queensland state, the country’s second-biggest grower, according to an industry group.

Farmers will pick about 4 million bales of 227 kilograms (500 pounds) from an estimated 4.4 million bales in 2012-2013, Cotton Australia’s Queensland policy manager Michael Murray said by phone today. Sowing has started in central Queensland and is moving south, he said.

The forecast compares with a prediction of 990,000 metric tons (4.36 million bales) by the Australian Bureau Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. World production will drop in 2013-2014 as the U.S., the biggest exporter, harvests its smallest crop in four years, according to the Department of Agriculture. Drought was declared in more than 60 percent of Queensland, Australia’s second-biggest grower, after the state suffered its fifth-driest August on record.

“Dryland will definitely be down if there is no good rain between now and the close of the planting window” in mid to late November, Murray said from Sydney today. “In the main irrigation areas, we’re expecting a small reduction on last year, but that could be rectified quite quickly if there’s some reasonable rains.”

Dryland cotton refers to crops that are grown without irrigated water and rely on rainfall.

Queensland has an equal chance of a wetter or drier-than-normal September to November, the Bureau of Meteorology says. New South Wales is Australia’s biggest cotton producer.

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