U.S. Cotton Experiencing Lowest Harvest Since Civil War Era
Droughts across the U.S. cotton regions, especially in Texas, have led agricultural forecasters to predict that 40% of currently planted cotton will be abandoned. This would account for approximately five million acres of failed cotton.
The Severity Of The Shortage
If these predictions indeed come to fruition it would result in the smallest area of cotton harvested since 1868, during Reconstruction when the country was recovering from the Civil War.
Droughts across Texas, the nation’s leading state for cotton production, have severely impacted the cotton output. The USDA is predicting a record for lowest ratio of harvested-to-planted acres. Even after record rain in parts of Texas for a few days in late August, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 95% of Texas is still at some level of drought.
The price of cotton as of August 29 is $1.22. This is a drastic rise compared to the price of $0.94 one year ago.
Many climatologists believe that droughts will become more frequent in Texas over the coming years. Benjamin McKnight, state cotton specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, says that farmers are working on developing more “drought tolerant” strains of cotton to combat this problem, but it won’t be a saving grace for current conditions.
Along with India and China, the United States is one of the largest producers of cotton in the world. India has faced its version of the opposite problem recently; losing cotton to heavy rains and pests.
The Promo Perspective
Less available cotton at higher prices has a direct effect on the apparel business, including promotional products.
“The reduced cotton harvest will most likely pressure global prices,” says Mark Lawrence, chief operating officer, alphabroder | Prime Line, which offers branded apparel in various forms. “To what extent? It is too early to fully quantify, but we are working to mitigate as much as we can while continuing to build inventory and maintaining full product line availability.”