Cotton industry looks to West Texas as drought threatens planting
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock growers say Wednesday night’s rain settled the dust but won’t make much of a difference on production.
“It’s as much a morale booster as anything at this point, certainly after the last couple of years. We’ve got a really dry situation on the western half of the area,” Shawn Wade, Director of Policy Analysis and Research at Plains Cotton Growers, said.
Southeast Lubbock has received some rain this year, putting it in better shape than other parts of the region.
Cotton farmer Dale Kitchens says the area still needs a gentle two-inch rain. Out west, he says growers need much more than that to even get a crop started.
Wade says some areas have received even less rainfall than during the drought in 2011 and 2012.
“Just an inch or two of rain west still will not get Lubbock West out of trouble. We are in a drought crisis in this South Plains area,” Kitchens said.
For Kitchens, the seed is bought, fertilizer is down, and he’s applied all the irrigation water he can.
“We’re ready. Our faith is still strong that we’re going to make a good crop and see an excellent price,” Kitchens said.
He says hope lies in the market. As cotton supplies tighten up, world inventories shrink and demand climbs.
“But a lot of cotton industry eyes are looking at West Texas now to see if we get enough rain to get a crop started,” Kitchens said.
He says the outlook for cotton prices is close to a dollar per pound and could easily go higher.
“Certainly, the market is a good incentive for them, and we’ve just got to hope that mother nature will kind of give us that input that we need and that’s moisture,” Wade said.
“That’s always the dream of a farmer to make a big crop and a big price. Then you knock a home run with the bases loaded,” Kitchens said.
Growers are hoping for a better outcome than last year. That season started with good a moisture level in the soil, but crops wilted under extremely high temperatures.
This year, Wade says we’re starting with low moisture, but timely rains throughout the season would do a lot of healing.
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