Robert Burns

August 18, 2010

2 Min Read

A "very unusual alignment of factors" means Texas could have an unusually large cotton crop that coincides with high prices in the market, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service cotton expert.

"A lot of years, we don't have that," said Dr. Randy Boman, AgriLife Extension cotton specialist based in Lubbock. "It could mean substantial (positive) economic impact for growers in the High Plains and the rest of the state."

Other major cotton producers such as Pakistan have not been so fortunate, he said. Widespread flooding in Pakistan and increased demand by China are driving prices up.

Boman is responsible for helping cotton producers throughout the High Plains of Texas, a region that typically produces about 60 percent of the state's cotton.

And this year, that 60 percent may represent as 3.78 million acres planted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistical Service.

"As of this time, NASS is saying 3.645 million acres are still standing," Boman said. That's only a little over 100,000 acres lost, and that's pretty phenomenal. Typically we're a much higher abandonment-area."

That 100,000 acres represents about a 3.6 percent abandonment rate, Boman said. A more common abandonment rate for the High Plains is about 15 percent. In 2009, there was a 25 percent abandonment. In 2008, the abandonment rate was about 40 percent due to drought.

That's the key to the prediction of outstanding production this year. Though some fields, particularly those dryland cropped, may not yield well, the low abandonment rate in the High Plains and the rest of the state spell a very good year, he said.

The NASS forecast for the state is 8.8 million bales for the state, with a little under 6 million bales predicted for the High Plains area, Boman said.

Of course, as it always is in agriculture, things are not rosy for everyone, he said. Dryland cotton was hurt by too much rain, roughly about 15 inches over the July 4 weekend in some High Plains counties. Many areas, particularly lower-lying dryland areas, were set back.

"It's going to be interesting," Boman said. "I'm always a little more negative on this crop than I ought to be, because I get calls from guys having a lot of grief rather than the guys who are making really good yields," he said. "The big issue is dryland yields. We really needed a rainfall event across the dryland areas last week to keep things on track."

Boman also noted that harvest is a long ways off.

"And as large as it is likely to be, unless we have some outstanding open weather, like a repeat of 2007, we could be harvesting very late this year."

Some of the large gins around that could be ginning as late as May, he said.

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