Rain gets 2014 cotton crop off to a good start

ABILENE, Texas - This year's cotton crop is going into the ground and June showers are getting things off to a good start.

This time last month, the outlook for the 2014 cotton crop was dismal.

Rainfall was more than five inches below average, with no sign of immediate improvement.

Then the calendar rolled over to June and our annual rainfall nearly doubled.

As of June 18, we've seen 3.36" of rain in June. That's almost half of the yearly total so far.

After catching up with Tim Shields, a local cotton farmer, we learned that the rain has given them a lot to do.

"We've got two planters going, a guy putting out fertilizer, we've got to clean our ground up," said Shields.

Shields has planted about 2,000 acres of cotton but he hopes to get an additional 1,500 acres planted in the weeks ahead.

While the rain has been wonderful, too much, too fast, has given the young cotton plants an extra hurdle.

"The day we planted the cotton, it rained an inch and a half in 20 minutes," recalled Shields.

"That compacts the ground and makes it hard for the cotton plants to come up."

Shields is now using equipment to "scratch" the ground. This loosens the soil and helps the sprouts emerge.

This crop will be in the ground for the next several months and rain will be crucial, especially when we hit the late summer months.

Rain in August or September will set bolls on the plants and help the crop.

"If we don't see any rain in August or September, it won't make it."

Current reports forecast U.S. cotton supply to hit a six-year high.

This is driving the price per pound down, somewhat, but that could change over the coming months.

Currently, this crop is expected to fetch $0.77 per pound when it is harvested.

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