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Severe Drought Accounts for 30 Percent of Crop Abandonment

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates project the 2011 cotton crop at 16.55 million bales, an increase of about 554,000 bales of cotton over last month’s figures, but still down 1.6 million bales from last season’s output. In Texas alone, which represents half of total U.S. cotton production, 87 percent of the crop is in fair to poor condition (down from 89 percent the previous week), according to the cotton crop outlook for the week of August 21. The national abandonment rate is projected at a record high 30 percent, with the southwest area expecting to produce only 4.6 million bales, 44 percent lower than last season’s 8.3 million bales.  Also, Hurricane Irene seems to have eliminated 10 to 15 percent of the crop in North Carolina and Virginia.

“Despite 1.3 million more acres planted to cotton this year, poor growing conditions could wipe out about 4 million acres,” says Tom Wedegaertner, director of agricultural research at Cotton Incorporated. “While earlier this year we anticipated about 4 million tons of cottonseed being available to dairy producers, up from 3.7 million tons in 2010, we may now be looking at only 3 million tons of cottonseed.” Wedegaertner stresses that cottonseed prices tend to fluctuate during the year and at times it may not work in everyone’s ration. In the interim, he recommends keeping cottonseed on the radar and checking forecasts often.

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