Weather Ready Nation: Cotton Harvest and the Impacts of Winter Weather

Weather Ready Nation

It has been downright cold over the past few days here on the South Plains with temperatures struggling to get past the freezing mark and wintry precipitation has been making it hard for residents to get around town. While these conditions have been a nuisance to most, farmers and growers are exceptionally on edge, as these circumstances can make or break their yield for this harvest.

“We are in a very volatile position right now if your cotton fields are open and ready for harvest. So what can happen is even with the light mist at these temperatures the cotton will soak up the moisture, the open bolls will, and when it freezes it creates a lot of weight on the lint…and if we have a big wind come along you end up with a lot of cotton on the ground that you can’t harvest so there is some pretty nervous growers here on the Texas High Plains.” stated Texas High Plains Cotton Producer Steve Newsom.

While farmers have been praying for moisture over the past few months, timing is key and Newsom stressed that this weather scenario has nearly all the negatives and very few of the positives of moisture. 

“Anything that is not just dry weather, low relative humidities is going to slow down the harvest. Snow seems to slow us down even more because…….the cotton’s absorbed the moisture and you have to have X amount of time with relative humidities below for sure 60%, but really even below 40 to get the lint dry enough that it will cycle through harvesting equipment.”

While growers still have a lot of work to go, they are in a better spot than previous years.

“There’s been some fields that have been sprayed, prepped and are ready to go. It appears by in large the crop is somewhat ahead for sure of last year.”

“The other thing is, look, we have had our freeze now so any waiting, worrying, ect on that part of it is over. Now what we need to do is get to the other side, see all the bolls open that we were waiting to open prior to the freeze, drop the leaves, and you are going to see, if it clears behind this, you are going to see farmers hit this deal in full force and a little bit of dry weather we will be wrapped up earlier than normal this year.”

Weather plays a huge role in the outcome of any crop and while freezing temperatures were expected around this time, we normally don’t start seeing even light snowfall until November so we are praying this winter storm didn’t hurt too many of our farmers here on the Texas High Plains.

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