Weather Ready Nation Report: 2020 Cotton Harvest

Weather Ready Nation

It’s almost that time of year here on the Texas High Plains for cotton harvest! Texas is the nation’s leader in cotton production, growing close to half of the total output for the United States and with the Texas High Plain being the single largest contiguous cotton field in the world, farmers here are extremely dependent on the weather in order to guarantee a good yield each growing season.

“One of the reasons that we grow cotton here on the Texas High Plains, and what we consider dry land, is 18 inches of normal rainfall generally will produce you a reasonable crop that you can profit from”, Texas High Plains Cotton Producer Steve Newsom, stated.

Unfortunately, 2020 has only brought farmers 10.61 inches of recorded precipitation here in the Lubbock region thus far, with some areas seeing even less, and with the worsening drought conditions, some farmers have been really struggling this growing season. 

“In this case, we got places that since planting season haven’t seen two inches of rainfall so it completely eliminates the option when you have that type of weather of growing crops and producing them successfully that are dependent upon rainfall.”

Dryland cotton, aka cotton that is completely reliant on rainfall, is virtually nonexistent this season and with six to almost twelve inches of exceptionally dry dirt, growers do not expect cover crops to thrive this year either. 

“This extended drought is not good for the Texas High Plains, but the one positive is that we can, once we start harvesting the cotton, we can run pretty much nonstop until it rains.”

Once the cotton bolls open, they become extremely vulnerable to heavy rain and hail so while farmers continue to pray for precipitation, a dry harvest period is ideal.

“The perfect conditions, you would pull into the field to start harvesting and you would be able to run through with clear weather all the way to the end, which doesn’t seem to be anything we are going to be very short on this time, but I know that we definitely would probably have some happy growers if we had a little bit of rainfall here pretty soon.”

Newsom credits the pioneering spirit here on the Texas High Plains as one of the many reasons it is an extremely good place to grow cotton. Growers now look ahead to the coming weeks with the hope that our first freeze doesn’t arrive early as that can also be a detriment to the crop.

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