DTN Cotton Close: Ends on Strong Gains Near Session Highs

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Winter weather advisory on the Texas Plains is not expected to provide much overall improvement in soil moisture. Drought intensified in Texas, alleviated in the Southeast and contracted in the Delta. Producers in the West concerned about irrigation water availability.

Cotton futures settled on back-to-back triple-digit old-crop gains Wednesday, with most-active May finishing on its highest close since Jan. 26. December posted a new contract high.

May gained 143 points to close at 80.39 cents, near the high of its 195-point range from down 39 points at 78.57 to up 156 points at 80.52 cents. It printed a new intraday high since Feb. 1.

March closed up 140 points to 78.91 cents ahead of first notice day on Thursday, trading within a 165-point range from 77.45 to 79.10 cents, and July finished up 139 points to 81.10 cents. December settled up 40 points to 76.40 cents, putting up a new high at 76.44 cents.

Sizable unpriced mill fixations offered support along with demand fundamentals showing 2017-18 export sales running 22% ahead of a year ago and price gains for acreage-competing soybeans.

Volume dipped to an estimated 53,100 lots from 54,190 lots the prior session when spreads accounted for 27,330 lots or 50.4% and EFP 97 lots. Options volume edged up to 6,290 lots (2,875 calls and 3,415 puts) from 6,093 lots (3,240 calls and 2,853 puts).

On the crop scene, a winter weather advisory until 6 p.m. CST Wednesday for parts of the Texas High Plains and Rolling Plains isn’t expected to provide much overall improvement in soil moisture.

Sleet accumulations of up to a tenth of an inch could cause hazardous travel at times in the Lubbock area through the southern and eastern High Plains into the Rolling Plains, forecasters say. An ice warning was issued for parts of the Rolling Plains around Abilene.

Most cotton modules have been delivered to gin yards. Dryland fields have remained too dry for land preparation. Wheat planted as a cover crop in some fields is barely visible and may have died.

The longest dry period without measurable precipitation on records going back to 1911 at Lubbock, 99 days, came to an end Friday with a meager 0.03 of an inch. This eclipsed the prior mark of 98 days, which ended Feb. 3, 2006 with an identical 0.03-inch.

Precipitation at Lubbock since Jan. 1 has totaled 0.18 of an inch through Tuesday, compared with a normal of 1.19 inches and 2.92 inches last year ahead of what USDA has projected as the second largest cotton crop ever produced on the High Plains.

Drought has intensified in Texas. Readings last week showed 89.74% with abnormally dry conditions, 71.22% with moderate drought, 37.56% with severe drought and 13.07% with extreme drought. Only 10.26% had no drought, down from 13.27% as of Feb. 1.

In the Southeast, widespread two-week rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches have reduced or eliminated moderate, severe and extreme drought conditions from Virginia to the Gulf Coast, USDA reported in a weekly review. Most gins still in operation were on gin days, processing final modules from producers.

Recent rainfall sharply contracted drought conditions in many areas of the North Delta. However, most drought-stricken areas had received less than 75% of average rainfall over a 90-day period and more was needed to fully alleviate soil moisture deficits ahead of spring planting.

In the South Delta, areas of moderate to severe drought in northeastern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi decreased dramatically, but 90-day moisture accumulations also remained below average.

Producers in Central Arizona and Hudspeth County, Tex., are concerned about irrigation water availability, as are growers in in the San Joaquin Valley.

Futures open interest declined 2,844 lots to 251,852 on Tuesday, with March’s down 5,381 lots to 7,829 and May’s up 1,830 lots to 122,240. Certified stocks were unchanged at 92,823 bales. Awaiting review were 2,200 bales at Galveston.

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