Skip to comments.Cotton Losses Staggering on Texas High Plains
Posted on 06/28/2003 5:00:42 PM PDT by Theodore R.
Cotton losses staggering on High Plains BY MARY JANE SHORT AVALANCHE-JOURNAL
The amount of High Plains cotton acreage lost to adverse weather has sailed past the 1 million mark with counties north of Lubbock hit hardest by the wipeout, recent estimates from Texas Cooperative Extension and Plains Cotton Growers show.
Experts say that of 3.6 million acres planted, about 1.18 million have been lost, almost a third of cotton acreage in PCG's 25-county area.
Counties sustaining the big gest losses include Bailey, Coch ran, Deaf Smith, Floyd, Lamb and Parmer. All report a 70 percent or greater acreage loss.
Earlier this month, experts in agriculture and economics estimated that $421 million to $750 million could be sucked out of the South Plains economy based on the loss of 700,000 acres of cotton.
J.D. Ragland, Floyd County Extension agent, said about 190,000 acres of cotton are normally planted in Floyd County, and only about 30,000 are left, an 85 percent loss.
Cotton acreage In Plains Cotton Growers' 25-county area:
Planted: 3.6 million
Failed: 1.18 million
Percentage: About 33 percent
Counties hit hardest: Bailey, Cochran, Deaf Smith, Floyd, Lamb and Parmer, all at 70 percent or greater acreage loss
Sources: Texas Cooperative Extension and Plains Cotton Growers
Furthermore, some of the remaining 30,000 acres are looking sick, Ragland said.
"It may make it and it may not," he said.
Although many Floyd County farmers are planting milo, they are finding it difficult to grow.
"Best we can figure, we didn't get it planted below the herbicide that was put out when we planted cotton," Ragland said. "The other thing is that with additional moisture we had, it probably stimulated the soil activity somewhat and caused that."
Ragland said sorghum acre age will probably triple, nearing the 100,000-acre mark, be cause so much cotton has been lost.
"Every year we contend with hail-outs and, in some cases, replanting has to occur," he said. "But in Floyd County, it seemed like one night a storm would come up and get one community and the next night, a storm would get another one."
Ragland said about 10.3 inches of rain have fallen in Floyd County this year, 6 inches in June alone.
"We're thankful for the moisture, but the bad weather has been challenging and has made it difficult for the producers to get the crops in the ground," he said.
He said in past years, pockets of the county had been severely affected, but this year, the damage has been much more widespread.
"It's pretty devastating," he said. "Not only did they lose their cotton, now some of their milo is not even coming up."
Randy Boman, agronomist with Texas Cooperative Exten sion, said 2003 has been the worst year for High Plains farmers since 1992.
In 1992, he said, 3.2 million acres of cotton were planted on the High Plains and 1.5 million were harvested. He said a good dryland crop is needed this year to keep production from falling through the floor.
"I've only been here seven years, but this has been the most difficult year to track crop progress that I have experienced," he said. "The problem this year is that we've had multiple hits in the same area, or across the region.
"About the time you think you've got a handle on what happened with last week's storm, along comes this week's storm, and that changes things."
Boman said the crop that is left in those areas has been badly damaged.
"We're going to be looking at trying to nurse a very sick crop to harvest and that requires a lot more tender loving care," he said. "The lateness of that crop after being beat up can become critical in September, and also with the number of replant acres we have, those are going to be really needing to have a good September and October in order to fully mature.
"So my perception is that this environmental situation has several implications on the potential quality of our crop," he said.
However, the southern counties remain in pretty good shape, even though the crops are behind, said Shawn Wade, communications director for Plains Cotton Growers.
Although many of those counties have experienced some loss, the damage was not as extensive as in the northern counties. Wade said Gaines County reported only a 10 percent cotton loss.
"In relative terms, those (southern) counties are in much better shape, even though those crops are behind, calendar-wise," Wade said. "They're delayed, but on the road."
Boman said the potential remains for a great dryland crop.
"If we can get some timely rains in July and August, and we have a good September, we will have a very good dryland crop," he said.
"They've had such a good start, and they are late, according to the calendar, but if we happen to make things click with another late fall, we are looking at some guys having some really good yield potential and good quality potential if we get some timely rain to assist."
I too, wondered what caused such significant losses. Apparently the pre-emergence chemicals put down at the time of the planting (to supress the emergence of unwanted weeds and grass) gravitated downward and stunted or prevented the cotton seed from germinating. Excessive rains could conceiveably have contributed to the problem.
All this is speculation on my part; not having grown cotton since the early fifties before pre-emergence chemicals were used. Back then, the grass that sprouted among the cotton stalks had to be removed by hand, using a cotton hoe.
Actually, I think that part was about why the milo that was an attempted replacement crop wouldn't grow.
The article does finally get around to saying that the reason the cotton isn't growing is because of the storms, but through the first part, I couldn't figure out if it were drought, floods, insect plague, or disease.
Hail? Wind? What exactly is causing the problem? Something to do with "storms", and contradictory-sounding comments on rainfall.