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Drought slashes U.S. cotton outlook

Amid drought in the U.S. West, growers will abandon three of every 10 acres of cotton they planted this spring, estimated the Agriculture Department. In its monthly WASDE report, the USDA projected a cotton crop of 15.5 million bales, down 1 million bales from its projection in early June and well below the 10-year average of 16.8 million bales.

“Continued below-average precipitation — particularly in Texas — means abandonment is projected higher this month, nearly four times the previous year’s level,” said USDA analysts. They said the crop would be in such poor condition on 3.9 million acres that it would be pointless to attempt a harvest. Texas is the No. 1 cotton state, with 7.1 million of the country’s 12.5 million acres of the crop.

Map of Texas drought conditions
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

With a smaller crop than initially projected, U.S. cotton exports would shrink to 14 million bales in the marketing year that begins on Aug. 1. Still, the United States would be the world’s largest cotton exporter. A bale of cotton weighs 480 pounds.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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