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Drought to lower new cotton supplies
Jun '11
Severe drought in West Texas will lower supplies of new cotton crop in 2011.

Severe drought in the High Plains of Texas, world's largest contiguous cotton patch will lower US cotton production this year. Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture lowered 2011 crop estimate by 1 million bales (480 lbs each) from its earlier May estimate. Such a downward correction so early is deemed highly unusual by industry leaders and speculations are such that the production estimate could be further lowered in months to come.

In a meeting on June 10th, Mr. Steve Verett, a well-respected cotton farmer and the Executive Vice President of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. of Lubbock, Texas warned that a significant rainfall is needed to salvage dryland cotton. “I am glass full kind of a person, but we have to face reality,” said Verett, indicating a turnaround in crop production is highly unlikely this year.

Dryland cotton crop in West Texas is likely going to be abandoned, said Dr. Kater Hake, Vice President of Agricultural Research of Cray, NC based Cotton Incorporated. We can't keep irrigating and in some point farmers have to abandon irrigation, said Verett talking about irrigated crop in West Texas. Hake agreed that farmers have to make decision on how they irrigate and in any case due to the limited availability of water this summer, total bales will come down.

Mr. Shawn Wade, Director of Policy Analysis and Research at Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. commenting on the impact of severe drought this year on the US cotton crop said, “at this time there appears to be real potential for the High Plains region to produce as much as 2 million fewer bales in 2011 than that in 2010.” The High Plains area in West Texas produced about 30% of US cotton crop last year. Given the adverse weather condition in West Texas, the output from the United States this year will be heavily curtailed.

Mr. Henry Gantz, Group Editor of the Cotton Media Group, Cordova, USA in a separate communication to this scribe said he is praying for rain, which reflects the severity of weather on US cotton crop, this year.

Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA

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