Cotton farms across Texas have been battling Mother Nature all year. Another curve ball came last week when a winter storm barreled across the Plains, dropping 10 inches of snow in its path. The weather further delayed a harvest already 30 days behind for one farmer.
“We’re getting to where these bolls are going to be very susceptible if we get moisture on them with anything kind of freezing temperatures, it’s going to pull them to the ground,” said Dahlen Hancock, a farmer just south of Lubbock, Tex.
The issue is showing up in more than just Texas. National Cotton Council (NCC) says the entire south is battling weather this fall, making for a very difficult harvest.
“It has been a difficult harvest when we look across the Cotton Belt,” said Gary Adams, CEO of NCC.
From two major hurricanes to extremely wet weather blanketing the South this fall, weather hindered harvest this fall, with a portion of the crop still in the field.
“My guess is even though we don’t have any updated data from USDA, we’ probably feel like we’re somewhere in the range of another 15 percent of U.S. acres yet to be harvested.”
More than just the harvest crawl, the quality of the crop is suffering in some instances, which is eating away at what farmers will be paid.
“Wen we look at the USDA quality reports, really what we’re seeing is some of the quality characteristics related to color, a little bit below the 5-year average,” said Adams. “I think really that’s where the weather is having its impact is on the color side and we’re seeing that in all the regions.”
As for yield, the crop is struggling in Texas. Cotton harvesters on dryland acres show how sparse the crop is, with some farmers not even breaking even on those acres.
“I’m a fourth generation farmer, so believe me, I’ve seen good and bad, and we’re just proud of what we have, and we’re grateful for what we have,” said Hancock.
Gratitude and relief for Hancock, thankful he even has a crop to harvest this year, as the “fabric of our lives” falls short this season.