Bloomberg News

Cotton Crop in India to Tumble as Dry Weather Hurts Crops

August 07, 2012

The cotton harvest in India, the world’s second-biggest grower, is poised to decline as the worst monsoon since 2009 parches fields and curbs planting, potentially cutting exports for the first time in three years.

The crop in Gujarat, the largest producer, may plunge as much as 30 percent in the harvest starting Oct. 1 from 12 million bales of 170 kilograms each a year earlier, said Hasmukhbhai Raval, chairman of the Gujarat State Cooperative Cotton Federation. The planted area in the state will probably slump by as much as 25 percent from 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) in 2011-2012, he said.

Rainfall in some parts of Gujarat is as much as 81 percent below a 50-year average as more than 50 percent of India is threatened by drought, shriveling crops from rice to cotton and oilseeds. A smaller harvest would reduce exports, helping halt a decline in New York prices, which slumped 23 percent in the past year as demand slowed in China, the biggest consumer.

“The outlook for the 2013 crop suggests global supply might be squeezed due to competition for acreage from crops like soybeans, and the weak monsoon in India,” Abah Ofon, an analyst at Standard Chartered Plc, said by e-mail. “Output is being disincentivised at current price levels and we believe global supply will be lower next year.”

Delayed Planting

Global cotton production in the year that started Aug. 1 will drop to 24.878 million metric tons from a record 26.66 million tons in the year ended July 31, Birkenhead, U.K.-based industry researcher Cotlook Inc. said July 19.

The August-delivery contract on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. climbed as much as 1 percent to 18,490 rupees ($334) a bale in Mumbai, the highest price since Feb. 6, before closing 0.3 percent lower at 18,260 rupees. The December- delivery contract fell 0.7 percent to 75.23 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

The area under cotton nationwide may decline as much as 10 percent as rains were either below-average or delayed in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh states, the second and third- largest producers, said D.K. Nair, secretary general of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry.

Planting covered 10.01 million hectares by Aug. 3, from a record 12.2 million hectares in the 2011-2012 season, according to the farm ministry. The harvest was an all-time high of 34.7 million bales, according to the Cotton Advisory Board.

“Some areas in Gujarat have not received even a drop of rain,” said Bharat Wala, president of the Saurashtra Ginners Association. “The window for planting is narrowing day by day and more planting may not take place.”

Record Exports

The monsoon, which brings more than 70 percent of India’s rain, was 17 percent below average since June 1, according to the India Meteorological Department. Rainfall is forecast by the department this year at 85 percent of the average between 1951 and 2000. That would be the least since the 2009 monsoon season when rainfall was 21.8 percent below average.

A revival in rains in the central and eastern parts of the country will benefit rice, soybean, cotton and sugar cane crops, L.S. Rathore, director general of the meteorological department, said today. Rains may be 96 percent of the average this month, a level deemed normal, he said.

El Nino weather conditions, which can parch Asia and bring cooler weather to the U.S., may not impact August rain, he said.

Chinese Stockpiles

India’s cotton exports are set to decline next year because of the slump in global prices and as dry weather cuts yields, said Kishore Narne, head of research at Mumbai-based AnandRathi Commodities Ltd.

Exports are estimated at a record 11.5 million bales in the year ending Sept. 30 from 7.8 million bales the previous year, according to the state-run Cotton Advisory Board. The nation briefly banned exports to secure domestic supplies after shipments surged more than the 8.4 million-bale surplus the government estimated. The curbs were lifted after protests from growers, traders and China.

“Indian exports are likely to be significantly lower in the new season as the nation struggles with production due to the reduced monsoon,” said Keith Flury, an analyst at Rabobank International in London. “The international demand for cotton is expected to slip in the new season as the globe’s number one importer China is forecast to lower shipments as it currently is sitting on massive stocks.”

Global cotton consumption will be 23.17 million tons in the year starting Aug. 1, down from 23.53 million projected last month, the Washington-based International Cotton Advisory Committee said last week.

India may import 1.5 million bales of cotton this year, more than double the amount a year earlier, as a shortage in the local market and a decline in global prices spur purchases, the textile industry’s Nair said.

“Domestic prices are trading 5 percent to 10 percent higher than international prices making imports of the fiber cheaper for mills,” Nair said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Swansy Afonso in Mumbai at safonso2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net


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