UPDATE 1-Mosaic to cut fertilizer production as weather dampens demand

(Adds details on market conditions, background)

Dec 19 (Reuters) - Mosaic Co said on Thursday it will reduce fertilizer production until market conditions improve, as a difficult harvest season in North America has led to reduced fertilizer usage.

Agricultural companies’ profits have been hammered this year due to an unusually cold and wet weather that has delayed planting season in North America, and lower demand fueled by trade war-related uncertainty.

“A third consecutive disappointing application season in North America has led to continuing high inventories and price weakness,” Mosaic Chief Executive Officer Joc O’Rourke said.

The company plans to cut phosphate production at its Central Florida facilities by 150,000 tonnes per month, and has already reduced it by 500,000 tonne in the first half of the year.

“Mosaic will not produce at high rates when we are unable to realize reasonable prices,” Rourke said.

The company will keep operating at lower production rate at its Canadian potash business and said it expects potash and phosphates shipment volumes for the fourth quarter to be modestly below its forecast.

The next year could also be tough for the fertilizer maker, mainly due to lower price expecations for phosphate, JPMorgan analysts said in a recent note.

Australia’s QBE Insurance Ltd had earlier flagged harsh weather conditions as it issued a profit warning for its North American crop insurance business. (Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Vinay Dwivedi)