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T-shirts and jeans cost soar as cotton hits 10-year high after extreme weather wiped out crops

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The cost of T-shirts and jeans could become more expensive after cotton prices hit a 10-year high last week when extreme weather devastated the cotton crop in the United States.

The price of the raw material has risen as much as 22 percent in the past week.

Cotton futures rose four percent to $1.09 – the highest since September 2011, according to CNN Business.

Last year around this time, cotton cost about 65 cents a pound, according to data from Nasdaq. The higher prices could increase clothing costs – which were already on the rise following a combination of the pandemic and extreme weather – and trickle down to consumers.

The cost of T-shirts and jeans could become more expensive as cotton prices hit a 10-year high as extreme weather wiped out the cotton crop in the United States

Last year around this time, cotton cost about 65 cents a pound, according to Nasdaq data (pictured).  It is currently $1.09 per pound

Last year around this time, cotton cost about 65 cents a pound, according to Nasdaq data (pictured). It is currently $1.09 per pound

Clothing prices rose 4.2 percent over the course of 12 months ending in August.

According to the government’s inflation report, price increases were greatest for men’s shirts and sweaters, which rose 4.4 percent; men’s pants and shorts, which were up 6.6 percent, and women’s dresses, which were up 11.9 percent.

The price of the commodity has skyrocketed, especially as droughts and heat waves wiped out the cotton crop across America — the world’s largest cotton exporter, according to CNN Business.

Peter Egli, the Chicago-based director of Plexus Cotton Ltd., called the situation “a classic short squeeze,” according to Bloomberg, while Robert Yawger, the director of energy functions at Mizuho Securities, attributed the price spikes to “a shortage situation.”

“The planting season has not gone well,” says Yawger.

Last year’s weather didn’t help. In October 2020, Hurricane Zeta, classified as a Category 2 storm, rolled through Alabama, leaving cotton fields in ruins.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress and Condition Report, about 60 percent of cotton crops were harvested from fields.

Clothing prices rose 4.2 percent over the course of 12 months ending August

Clothing prices rose 4.2 percent over the course of 12 months ending August

According to the government's inflation report, price increases were greatest for men's shirts and sweaters, which rose 4.4 percent;  men's pants and shorts, up 6.6 percent;  and women's dresses, which were up 11.9 percent

According to the government’s inflation report, price increases were greatest for men’s shirts and sweaters, which rose 4.4 percent; men’s pants and shorts, up 6.6 percent; and women’s dresses, which were up 11.9 percent

‘For those who still have a harvestable crop, the quality and yield will be much lower than expected for Zeta. It’s devastating, especially for our farmers in the Black Belt and coastal Alabama counties,” said Carla Hornady, Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton; soy; and director of the Wheat & Feed Grain divisions.

According to WSFAJoe Jordan, president of the Monroe County Farmer Federation, had scheduled to begin picking his 494 acres of cotton in the first week of November, just days before the storm hit.

Jordan said of what Zeta left behind: “When you drove by the field the day before, it was just all white from the cotton. When we drove by on Thursday morning, all you could see were brown stems.

“All the cotton has been knocked off the ground. It’s pretty rough.’

A month earlier, in September 2020, Florida farmers in Okaloosa County took a hard and expensive blow to the year’s cotton crop after Hurricane Sally’s fast winds and more than 20 inches of rain.

Robert Yawger (pictured), the director of energy functions at Mizuho Securities, attributed the price spikes to

Robert Yawger (pictured), the director of energy functions at Mizuho Securities, attributed the price spikes to “a shortage situation.” “The planting season did not go well,” he added

Damage from the storm was a loss of about $1 million, as reported by the NWF Daily Newsand also washed away nutrients that farmers rely on to grow and thrive their crops.

Farmer Nick Marshall, who runs his farm with his father, told the news channel that “of all the cotton that was open, about 50 percent is on the ground.”

China has also demanded high demand for cotton, which CNN Business attributed to the US trade policy pursued by the Trump administration in December 2020.

Last year, the Trump administration blocked US companies from importing cotton and cotton products from China’s western Xinjiang region because of forced labor abroad.

The policy’s sanctions have remained in effect after Biden took office and CNN Business analysts reported that as a result, some Chinese companies have started buying US-grown cotton.

Those companies will then make goods with that cotton and sell the products back to the United States and other markets around the world.

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