LUBBOCK, Texas — Cotton farmers are in serious need of rain as they prepare for planting season which typically starts in mid-May and ends around early June.
“We are coming off of a certainly less than stellar year” said Chief Executive Officer of Plains Cotton Growers, Steve Verrett. “If you look at the drought maps it’s as bad and in some cases worse then 2011.”
West Texas hasn’t seen a glimpse of moisture in months and with land as dry as it is leaving many famers to wait on getting any seeds into the ground.
“From my perspective, there are a lot of things telling us to wait, don’t get in a hurry,” said fourth generation cotton farmer Jeremy Brown. “We don’t have the conditions to go out there and start planting from a temperature and a moisture standpoint.”
Unfortunately, farmers need more than just one rainfall, Brown said it’ll take a good 5 to 10 inches of rain to bring enough moisture to the ground. However, right now cotton prices are up which is giving farmers even more of a push to kick off their planting season.
“We are trading in the 80 cent range, and when the price is good you want to make a crop,” said Brown, “but you also have to be a realist and know if there is no moisture you gotta keep your expenses low.”
The good news is as long as they plant their crop by their county’s end date, they are able to claim crop insurance in case anything goes wrong.
“That is there basically as a tool when things get bad,” said Brown. “It’s there to help us when the weather and conditions are not favorable to grow a crop.”
Brown and many others are holding off until May 15, but still even that date depends on the moisture gained.
“Certainly all eyes are on Texas and even the High Plains of Texas because we are the largest growing area of cotton in the U.S.” said Verrett.