Floods May Cut Australia Cotton by 500,000 Bales, FCStone Says

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The cotton harvest in Australia, the fourth-largest exporter, may have been cut by about 500,000 bales because of floods, according to FCStone Australia Pty, which cited estimates from unidentified industry participants.

Revised estimates are mostly 3.8 million to 4 million bales, FCStone said in an e-mailed report today. “Pessimistic” forecasts put the crop at 3.7 million bales at best, while “a few” expected more than 4 million, it said. Australian bales weigh 227 kilograms (500 pounds).

Floods in Queensland, after record December rainfall, have affected about 1 million square kilometers. FCStone’s range of harvest outcomes compares with the record harvest of 3.6 million bales in 2000-2001, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

“The general view is that the crop has lost approximately 500,000 bales to date due to direct flooding, potential abandonment and reduced yields,” Sydney-based FCStone Australia said. “The real problems are in Queensland, with New South Wales crops generally in pretty good shape.”

Cotton for March delivery fell 0.5 percent to $1.405 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New Yorkat 7:34 p.m. Melbourne time. The most-active contract reached a record $1.5912 a pound on Dec. 21 amid increased demand from China.

Cotton Australia last year estimated the current crop at 4.2 million bales, while the Australian Cotton Shippers Association had forecast output at 4.4 million bales, FCStone said in the report.

Washed Out

The floods may have damaged or washed out 10 percent to 15 percent of Queensland’s cotton, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said in a report today. Still, the bank left unchanged its outlook for 4.5 million to 4.6 million bales as crop recovery in Queensland depended on weather in January and February, ANZ Agricultural Economist Paul Deane said.

About 7,500 hectares (18,533 acres) at Theodore in Queensland had been destroyed by floods, industry-group Cotton Australia has estimated.

Damage at areas including Emerald, Dalby and Toowooomba is still being assessed, David Bone, communications manager at the Sydney-based group, said today. Crops near St. George may also be at risk as river levels rise ahead of an expected weekend peak.

(Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-07/cotton-output-in-australia-may-be-cut-500-000-bales-on-flood-fcstone-says.html)

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