By Keith Brown, DTN Cotton Correspondent
March 19, 2020

Although USDA issued superior exports-sales Thursday morning, the unexpected closure of Port of Houston sent the cotton market limit-down. Allegedly, two employees at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus, ushering in its temporary closure. More salt in the wound was that the Dow was positive and there was a sharp recovery in the Chicago grains. Another potential negative for cotton were the beneficial rains that fell over West Texas.

However late session, cotton came off its limit-down offering, but still finished significantly lower. Clearly, the invisible coronavirus can suddenly and substantially distort every angle of ordinary American life. Heading into Friday, spot May cotton is down 5.20 cents on the week, down 6.50 cents for the month and 15.00 cents lower on the year, Such a move hardly seen across duration of a single growing season, but as of Thursday no seed for the 2020 crop has impaled the ground.

Next week, the market will approach the end of the month and the end of the quarter, which might increase volatility among speculators. Additionally, USDA’s acres intentions data will be published on March 13. However, given the chaotic circumstances of the immediate economic situation, who will accept those numbers as gospel?

May cotton settled at 54.93 cents, down 1.71 cents, July finished at 54.98 cents, down 2.21 cents and December cotton closed at 56.10 cents, down 1.98 cents. Estimated volume was 59,252 contracts. (Source: