Tropical Storm Bill that hit Texas Tuesday is the latest weather headache for farmers. Cotton growers in Texas are still recovering from record rainfall in May. Now they’re racing against the calendar and crop insurance cut-off dates.
Before the growing season even began, cotton acres in Texas were projected to decrease.
“The last few years we’ve averaged six million acres or a little more. It was estimated that we would be down 14 percent,” said Texas A&M Professor and State Extension Cotton Agronomist, Gaylon Morgan.
Then came the rain, pushing producers up against their final planting dates.
“This weather situation will probably easily take off I’d say another probably half million acres,” said Morgan.
The last day to plant cotton and receive a full insurance guarantee varies county by county in Texas. The areas in pink with an earlier May 31 date- the purple, June 20. Some who got in early forced to replant.
“It’s probably a little late but we have to try something,” said Central Texas producer, Josh Birdwell.
Others are planting up to their date.
“Up until 9:30 a.m. that night. We were still planting the last day,” said Spence Pennington, Raymondville, Texas farmer.
This field near College Station is behind, already seeing stress.
“This plant was in a portion of the field that was underwater at some point or just stayed saturated. So we’re probably looking at two to three weeks difference in maturity here, which is going to cause problems because once the cotton bowls are open, they’re very susceptible to rain and high winds,” said Morgan.
The panhandle is a heavily populated cotton area. Morgan says some farmers planted after the date and took a penalty. Still, he projects the area will likely lose some acres.
“Cotton in that region performs much better than other warm season crops there,” said Morgan.
As far as conditions go, Morgan says maturity varies field to field. “In South and Eastern part of the state, there will be a management situation that will present some challenges. But again, most of our cotton in South Texas is dry-land so we have to manage some challenges but with a full profile of moisture, there’s a good opportunity they’re going to make a decent cotton crop,” said Morgan.
The majority of the cotton product ion region in Texas has been in a drought since 2011, but Morgan says most producers are optimistic they got some moisture to get their crops established.
“They will get something out of this. There have been situation sin the past few years in South and West Texas where they never get a stand,” said Morgan.
Morgan is monitoring the impacts of Tropical Storm Bill.