An ‘exceptional’ year for cotton farmers

The upcoming harvest is expected to have a high yield with high prices. But producers are cautiously optimistic.
Producers saw a record year, with plentiful rains and hot days. Now, it's the final push until...
Producers saw a record year, with plentiful rains and hot days. Now, it's the final push until harvest time.(Blair Sabol (KCBD))
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 9:52 PM CDT
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PETERSBURG, Texas (KCBD) - This year is one for the history books. After a few difficult seasons for cotton growers, finally some kindness from Mother Nature.

“I think... in my 27 years of farming, probably only had dryland to make two bales this one time,” farmer Tom Gregory of Petersburg explained. “We’re looking at exceptional dryland crop if everything works out.”

He surveys his 3,000 acres of cotton crop on a hot and sunny day with cautious glee. The irrigated land has plants as tall as waist-length. The dry-land plants are already seeing open bolls. All good signs in early September.

Plenty of rain and hot temperatures have helped the fields blossom right on time.

“Most farmers would probably sign up for a ‘2021,’“Gregory said. “We generally don’t get a lot of rains in August but August 14th, 15th we had like two to three inch rain, very beneficial.”

“Last year we produced just over two million bales in the whole region from the top of the Panhandle down to Midland. This year we’re looking to at least double that,” Shawn Wade, director of policy analysis and research at Plains Cotton Growers, said.

This year, the expected higher yield seems to be coupled with higher prices.

Wade says farmers could sell for 85 to 90 cents per pound.

“Producers are really going to have an opportunity to maybe heal up some of those wounds from the last couple years, sure up the bottom line and maybe set themselves up for success down the line,” he said.

Though he’s feeling confident, Gregory doesn’t want to count his bolls before they open. South Plains farmers know all too well that everything can change overnight.

“Last year we had the open crop out there as far as open bolls in the cotton, and then we had an ice storm that came through and then that ice gets on the cotton and pulls it out and falls on the ground. That’s lost income for farmer. "

Though the growing season has been a good one, supply prices have increased across the board.

To make up for it, producers hope Mother Nature will remain kind just a few weeks more.

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