NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) -

U.S. sugar output in the new season starting in October will be less than previously projected due to a widespread drought in Louisiana, the No. 1 producing state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Tuesday.

The USDA slashed its projection for Louisiana in 2023/24 by 18% to only 1.68 million short tons (ST).

Louisiana traditionally leads U.S. states in cane sugar production, ahead of Florida. Sugar made out of sugarcane usually accounts for around 45% of the total U.S. production, with the rest made from beet.

The heat wave in the South has hurt other crops as well, such as cotton in Texas.

The lower output from Louisiana will be partially offset by an estimated 3% increase in beet sugar output to 5.22 million ST, the USDA said.

With the production changes and reduced import estimates, the stocks-to-use ratio - a key indicator of the supply level - fell to 13.5% from 15.2% in August.

The USDA projected U.S. sugar imports at 3.26 million ST in 2023/24, down from 3.46 million ST estimated last month. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Richard Chang)