Cotton Crop Update

Cotton Crop Update

In just his fourth year of farming, Clay Hill has seen some hard times. 

"The first year I started farming was probably one of the worst droughts we had," Hill said. "I can't ever remember one being that bad, but we didn't even really make a dry land crop. It just stayed dirt all year." 

2015 marked the end of the drought. But the wet weather has brought a new set of challenges. 

"That compared to this year we can't even get in the fields because it's too wet," Hill said. "Right now there's a bunch of stuff we need to be doing, but four inches of rain in one night will put you behind for a few days."

In just seven months Lubbock County has received more than their average annual total precipitation. 
National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Cobb said that there may be more rain through the fall.

"It's a plus and minus," Cobb said. "It's definitely benefiting from the soil moisture which is necessary for the plants to take root and to grow," Cobb said. "But on the opposite side of that comes the weather that comes with heavy rainfall, which can be destructive hail, strong winds, and those types of things which certainly the producers don't like." 

One benefit producers have seen is a reduction in irrigation costs. 
In fact, Hill said that he has not used his drip system at all this season. 

"We have not started the water at all," Hill said. 
"Every thing's got plenty of water and every acre we've got just has great potential."

The extra moisture is bringing more pests and weeds. But Hill said that he feels like the rain has set them up for an above average crop. 

"We're thinking quantity, we ought to be able to put more pounds and pounds mean money," Hill said. "The price still isn't that good but maybe it will go up, and maybe our pounds will outdo the price and we'll still be able to cash flow a little bit." 

Cobb said that he thinks the remaining crop development depends largely on heat units. 

"As we go into the fall, we can be dealing with more rain, and more cloudy conditions, which could definitely hurt their heat units that they're wanting to accumulate," Cobb said.  

Hill said that if his cotton does receives adequate sunshine through the end of the growing season, he expects to begin harvesting around the first of October. 

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