Texas cotton fields ravaged by drought, hot temperatures  Inclement weather across the U.S. has contributed to the precipitous rise in commodity prices that has occurred over the past few years. The searing temperatures and record drought that have battered Texas over the past two months have left many farmers scrambling as crop yields plummet.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the condition of cotton crops in Texas is at its worst level since at least the Dust Bowl of the early 1930s. Many farmers have had to abandon their fields as a result, losing money as cotton crops cannot flourish on scorched grounds and amid high temperatures.

Many farmers will break even because of insurance policies they have taken out, but some are not projected to fare as well, according to industry experts.

"The number and severity of claims in the Texas Panhandle, High Plains, rolling plains and backlands will be substantially higher than recent years," Armtech Insurance president Ted Etheredge said. "The drought is severe, so non-irrigated acreage in most areas had emergence issues, and now irrigated crops are suffering."

This year's drought is the worst on record, according to government data spanning 116 years. Reduced cotton crops have raised cotton prices, leading to increased business costs for companies like Levi Strauss & Co. and J.Crew.

As companies have worked to circumvent the high cotton prices, they have largely failed in their strategic sourcing endeavors, according to industry experts. The U.S. is the world's biggest exporter of cotton, and as forecasts continue to edge lower, many businesses are readying for what could be yet another run-up in cotton prices.

The situation in Texas is nothing short of dire: More than 60 percent of Texas cotton crops were rated as poor or very poor on August 7. At the same point in 2010, only 7 percent of the state's cotton crops were rated as such.

Farmers are likely to abandon many of their cotton crops, according to experts. More than 65 percent of Texas's cotton fields are irrigated, complicating matters.

"We're going to have record abandonment this year," Keith Brown & Co. president Keith Brown affirmed. He predicts U.S. cotton output could fall by as much as 13 million bales this year.

Still, on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday, cotton futures for December delivery fell 4.3 percent, closing at 97 cents per pound.
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