October 31, 2011
AUSTIN — The drought map created by University College London shows a number of worryingly dry areas around the globe, in places including East Africa, Canada, France and Britain.
Some of the farthest-reaching effects may be on world cotton markets. Texas produces about 50 percent of U.S. cotton, and the United States in turn grows between 18 and 25 percent of the world’s cotton, according to Darren Hudson, director of the Cotton Economics Research Institute at Texas Tech University. This year, however, yields even from irrigated crops have fallen about 60 percent on the high plains where the bulk of Texas’s cotton crop grows, Mr. Hudson said. Farmers have given up on their “dry-land,” or unirrigated, cotton crops.
World cotton prices, which had been at historic highs, have fallen recently, Mr. Hudson said, but that is mainly because the sluggish economy and other factors have outweighed the loss of supply.
“Although prices have come down, they probably would have come down more, had we had a normal crop year,” he said.