Dry Weather to Limit U.S. Cotton Production

Dry conditions may limit cotton production in the United States, the world's largest exporter of the crop, next season.

Farmers will abandon more fields as dry weather compounds already below-normal moisture in growing areas from Texas to Alabama, John Flanagan, the president of Flanagan Trading Corp, told Bloomberg News.

"We shouldn't expect to see the crop emerge as healthy as this year," Flanagan said.

Still, rising prices may help push planted acreage to 13.5 million acres next season, Flanagan said. The government estimates that 11.04 million acres were sown this season.

Rainfall in Texas is 27% below the five-year average since the end of August. In Louisiana, it's 43% below average.

La Nina, a weather pattern caused by cooling equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean could mean more dry weather during planting.

"There is a dryness risk in West Texas in the planting season" that will likely last into May, said Joel Widenor, Commodity Weather's director of agricultural services.

Cotton prices have risen 75% this year in New York on concern that global demand, especially from China, will outstrip supply. Cotton for March delivery rose to $1.3234 on Dec. 3.

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