LUBBOCK, Texas — Despite recent rain in Lubbock and the South Plains, 2023 doesn’t look like it will bring a great harvest to many cotton farmers in West Texas.
Jeremy Brown, a cotton farmer in the Lubbock area, said a lot of it has to do with the heavy rains we got at the beginning of the summer and the hot and dry conditions in between. And now, even these most recent rains may have been too little, too late.
“I’m one of these farmers that never says no to rain because you never know when the next one is going to come,” said Brown.
For folks like Brown, this year has been harder than others.
“In 2022, we knew we didn’t have a crop. We didn’t spend any money. We kept our expenses,” said Brown. “These are the years that are tough where you kept trying to make it. You’re hoping for a rain. You’re trying to do everything you can to keep it clean and give it what it needed, and then it still doesn’t rain.”
Even though harvest season hasn’t even started, Brown already put a lot of care into his 2024 crop.
“I’m planting cover crops. We put in a lot of multi-species covers in our standing cotton, and we started doing that the first of September,” said Brown. “So, this rain is going to get those cover crops growing, so I’m excited about that.”
Although planting cover crops like rye, oats or radish helps the soil for next season, Brown said he’s trying to prepare it for more than just one more dry year.
“I need to do whatever I can for when I do get that water. Whether it’s irrigated or rain fed, we’re going to capture it,” said Brown. “I focus a lot of my time and energy on … six soil principles so that my soil can utilize those timely rains.”
However, when it comes to the crop for 2023, Brown said the weather we’ve been having may be helpful in the coming months.
“It would be good to have a little bit of dry heat to finish the crop out, especially the irrigated crop,” said Brown. “I think the dryland is pretty much done with because it just didn’t have anything to help it.”
Even though it is supposed to get hotter again next week, Brown said he’s still optimistic that something will be harvested in the coming months, and for the chances of rain between now and then.