India's announcement on Monday to ban all cotton exports is predictably causing a surge in prices, but it remains to be seen if the rally will be long-term.

"We'll probably continue to see higher prices in the short-term," says Max Runge, Auburn University Extension economist. "But I don't think we can count on any long-term effects.

“The market is so volatile now — we were up to about 97 cents four weeks ago, then back down to 90 cents, and now, with this news from India, we're back up to 92 cents."

India reportedly made the decision to ban its cotton exports because it's concerned about a possible supply crunch in the country. According to government officials, India's cotton exports may have overshot government targets last year.

India made a similar announcement in 2010, in an apparent effort to protect the country's textile industry.

Following the announcement of the ban on Monday, U.S. cotton futures jumped 4.5 percent — the most allowed in a single day of trading — to 92.23 cents per pound.

This price is still less than half of the all-time high of $2.27 per pound, reached last March due to a global supply crunch. Toward the end of last year, cotton prices dipped as low as 84.35 cents per pound.

The continuation of this volatility is the only thing that appears certain in the cotton market, says Runge.

"I think we'll continue to see these swings in the market. Growers might want to consider locking in some prices on the upward swings," he says.

India is the second largest cotton exporter in the world, just behind the United States. Seventy-five percent of the U.S. crop currently is being exported.

phollis@farmpress.com