AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The condition of the cotton crop here in the Panhandle is devastating according to farmers across the region.
Rainfall followed by cooler weather in the month of May caused damage to many cotton plants in their earliest stage.
“It’s very fragile during that point and time. Cotton needs heat and warm soil temperatures to produce good root establishment for the plants and our weather conditions we had this time did not allow us to do that,” said Randall County Agrilife Extension agent J.D. Ragland.
Ragland said these conditions can often cause seedling disease which can render a cotton field a total loss.
The window for successfully re-planting the crop has also passed for producers.
“Many of them are waiting on their crop insurance companies to come by, take a visual look at their fields and see if they can declare it as a loss and perhaps be able to collect some insurance. Or they’re having to leave what’s out there and hope for the best,” said Ragland.
But re-planting other crops is still a possibility.
“You could look at something like a short season corn variety, sorghum is an option, soybeans are an option in certain areas. So those are all things to think about and it depends on a case by case basis,” said Texas A&M Agrilife Extension economist Justin Benavidez.
The devastation of the crop is also expected to have a negative impact on employees in the industry.
“Module hauling, custom harvesting, ginning, they require a throughput of bales, or a throughput of just cotton in volume in order to make a profit,” said Benavidez. “So the lower amount of cotton they have going through those different industries, the less people they’ll be able to hire, the lower their net returns at the end of the year and the people that they are able to hire will likely be employed for a shorter period of time because the ginning season will be shorter.”
Rainfall in the region is expected to be above normal through harvest time this fall.
“For the month of May we have actually been a couple of inches at times three inches above normal on the rainfall," said First Alert Meteorologist Allan Gwyn. “And with the extended outlook from NOA, we could stay above normal on that rainfall for several more months. That’s not good news for some of the crops.”