Big Country

This year's cotton crop abandonment around 40 percent in West Texas

Low cotton numbers

ABILENE, Texas - Years of dry weather have left much of this year's cotton crop in jeopardy.

The cotton crop relies heavily on the weather. Across the big country this summer there has been more rain than last, which is good, but there were also a lot of days with high winds and hail that knocked out fields.

Don Starr has been in the cotton business for decades. He said the drought that started hitting Texas in 2011 has made life difficult for several cotton farmers.

"Cotton varies a lot. Most farmers are scattered enough that they'll make some cotton and even the real bad cotton could be harvested, but it won't make a profit," said Starr.  

Starr said cotton farmers are really betting on the weather every year when they plant their crops, but lately many of them just keep losing.

"I see probably 50 or 60 percent that abandoned a percentage. They just let it go, it wouldn't make it," Starr said.  

Robert Pritz at the Taylor County AgriLife Extension Office said abandonment numbers aren't concrete.

"At this stage of the game we're really guessing at what our abandonments are going to be, but we're looking at, you know, probably close to 40 percent, which is a little higher than what we typically see. Even on a normal year we'll see abandonments around that 20 to 25 percent range," said Pritz. 

Pritz agrees for many Texas cotton farmers, this year could be disappointing.

"Not only in the Big Country, but across the state, only being able to harvest about, maybe a little over 50 to maybe 60 percent of the crop that was planted will actually be harvested," Pritz said. 

The rain in July and this week helped the cotton crop. What are cotton farmers hoping for now? More rain and a late freeze.

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