Harsh weather patterns soon may be reaching into apparel supply chains. Southwestern cotton growers are abandoning millions of parched acres that they planted in the spring, reports The Wall Street Journal, sending prices sharply higher on forecasts for the weakest U.S. harvest in more than a decade.
U.S. analysts project this year’s domestic cotton crop will be down some 28% from last year, and will be the smallest crop since a meager 2009 harvest helped set the stage for record prices. They also predict some of the lowest end-of season inventories in decades.
U.S. agricultural forecasters expect drought-struck farmers to walk away from more than 40% of the 12.5 million acres they sowed with cotton and to harvest the smallest area since 1868.
Though farmers have insurance to fall back on, the economic pain risks spreading throughout the region and to farming-sector suppliers.
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