Cool US summer helps corn, soy, but hampers cotton

The condition of the US cotton crop deteriorated for a second successive week, undermined by the extent of rainfall and cool temperatures which, while favourable for corn and soybeans, are proving excessive for plantings of the fibre.

The ratings of most major US crops at least stayed stable last week, with the proportion of corn rated "good" or "excellent" by the US Department of Agriculture remaining at 76% as of Sunday - a reading second only to that of 2004 within the last 20 years.

The 2004 harvest achieved a then-record corn yield of 160.3 bushels per acre, up from 142.2 bushels per acre in 2003, which was itself an all-time-high result.

The proportion of soybeans rated good or excellent rose by 1 point to 73%, by far the best reading since 1994 for this time of year, ahead of 68% figures recorded in 2003 and 2004.

'Cool temperatures, overcast skies'

However, the proportion of US cotton rated "good" or "excellent" fell by 1 point last week to 52% - at a time of year when ratings are typically improving.

The decline reflected the impact in major southern states of persistent rains and cool temperatures which, while helpful for the likes of corn and soybeans, and a boost to pasture condition, are less beneficial for cotton, which enjoys somewhat drier and warmer conditions.

In Texas, the main cotton growing state, which USDA scouts said was marked by "cool temperatures and overcast skies" last week, the proportion of the cotton crop rated good or excellent declined by 2 points to 37%.

"Portions of the Northern High Plains, Edwards Plateau and South Texas recorded three inches or more of rainfall for the week," the scouts said.

'Heat still needed'

In Tennessee, the proportion of cotton rated good or excellent fell by 4 points, albeit to a still strong 70%.

"With no end in sight for some producers, rains have drowned out some crop acreages and prevented planting of others," USDA scouts said.

"The wet weather is helping soybean and corn development. But heat units are still needed for the cotton crop because of its sensitivity to adverse environmental conditions."

In Haywood County, in the west of the state, where one scout reported that "rains and cooler weather put a halt to" all fieldwork, "accumulating the number of required heat units for cotton is becoming a big concern for producers".

'Remains too dry'

There is still some concern too over residual pockets of dryness, left over from the winter drought which hurt in particular southern Plains winter wheat crops.

World Weather said that "portions of far southern Texas remains too dry and that will not change in the next couple of weeks".

Cotton futures for December stood 0.5% higher at 68.04 cents a pound in New York as of 06:00 local time (11:00 UK time).

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