Cotton Crop Down, but Still Good

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The lingering drought will cause the cotton harvest in Texas to drop by 32 percent.

But farmers in the nation's leading cotton-producing state are hardly panicking.

That's because Thursday's projection from the U.S. Department of Agriculture of five-point-seven (m) million bales -- down from last year's record of eight-point-five (m) million -- would still be the fourth-largest harvest on record.

The USD report shows yields at 652 pounds per acre, up from last month's 620 pounds per acre. Both are well below last year's 724 pounds per acre but strong despite the less-than-ideal weather. Drought conditions during much of the growing season hammered dryland fields, erasing about two-point-two (m) million planted acres.