Hurricanes hinder farm data collection across Southeast U.S.

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(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its latest monthly crop report, a focus for farmers and commodity traders, doesn’t fully reflect damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the agency plans to survey harvests later this month.

The USDA will assess harvests in Texas and Louisiana that were affected by Harvey, and those in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina that were hit by Irma, it said report on Tuesday. It will look at cotton, soybeans, corn, rice, sorghum, sugar-cane and peanuts. The Hurricanes have disrupted data collection, making more detailed information-gathering necessary, the department said.

Harvey, which upended millions of lives and submerged crops in Texas and the Mississippi Delta region, may cause up to $1 billion in losses for crop-growers and livestock producers, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Monday. USDA workers are in the field determining damage from Irma, which battered Florida and some Caribbean islands over the weekend, he said.

Irma’s remnants are traveling northwest. Its damage is expected to have a greater effect on orange juice and sugar crops, although its rains have also spread over cotton- and soybean-growing areas.

Cotton futures plunged 4.2 percent in New York, the maximum allowed on the exchange, after the USDA’s report, as the agency projected a larger-than-expected U.S. supply of the fiber. Prices had jumped in the previous three weeks as Harvey approached and then hit crops in Texas, the nation’s top cotton grower. Ranchers affected by the storm are receiving emergency aid while losses are being assessed.

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