Farm Progress

Weather will pose the biggest challenge for Texas High Plains cotton growers.Farm bill is also high on the list.Water restrictions concern High Plains farmers.

Ron Smith 1, Senior Content Director

April 11, 2013

3 Min Read
<p> CRAIG HEINRICH, PCG president, addresses the 56th annual meeting recently in Lubbock.</p>

Weather, as usual, will pose the biggest challenge for Texas High Plains cotton growers this year, says Craig Heinrich, president, Plains Cotton Growers.

“Weather is typically our No. 1 challenge,” Heinrich said at the conclusion of the 56th annual meeting for PCG in Lubbock. “We have come through two really, really dry years, including the worst drought in 100 years. So, we will be looking for rainfall and hope we can increase production.”

Henirich also mentoned the farm bill, or lack of one, as an issue that PCG will follow over the next few months. “We need a five-year farm progam so we can make long-term plans,” he said.

Water issues, especially regarding new limits from the High Plains Underground Water District No. 1, also warrants PCG attention. “We have already been working with the dsitrict,” he said. Efforts include a water management committee and having penalties suspended through the 2013 season.

“We are working to see what we can improve,” he said.

A cottonseed insurance program developed by PCG proved successful last year in helping cotton farmers protect a valuable resource — cottonseed. The ability to insure cottonseed as well as fiber, protected farmers from signifiantt losses during the drought. More than 60 percent of Texas cotton farmers signed up for the insurance program.

“We also continue to support federal crop insurance and ask that legislators continue to strengthen the program.”

Heinrich encouraged Congress to “keep commodity titles in place with no new regulations on farmers.”


If you are enjoying reading this article, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.


He said herbicide-resistant pigweed creates problems for High Plains cotton. “We’ve been working with Texas AgriLife and research to publish management tips.”

PCG is also involved in efforts to prevent the lesser prairie chicken from being listed as an endangered species. Interested parties from five Southwestern states have been involved in analyzing the issue, which could affect both rangeland and  CRP acreage. “We are trying to prevent listing the prairie chicken as endangered and are working to formulate  conservation efforts to improve habitat.”

Contract arbitration rules have also been an issue over the past year. “We have become more vocal about that,” Heinrich said. The crux of the matter is to maintain contract sanctity.

He expects cotton acreage to top earlier planting projections. “Since January, grain prices have come down, and cotton prices have come up. I think we will see acreage increases above early estimates. I’m not sure how much. Weather issues will play a role. But cotton is important to this area. We have the largest continguous cotton patch in the world. Cotton drives the eoncomy here.”

Steve Verett, executive vice president for PCG, said High Plains cotton farmers have “faced some tough times the last couple of years. But, for the most part, they are still farming and are here to farm another day.

“We did some better in 2012, and we had crop insurance to support us. I hope it stays available for the future.”

Verett praised the volunteer leadership that allows PCG to function smoothly. “Each member gin has the ability to appoint a board member,” he said. “That’s the fabric of this organization. The board of directors are the ones who drive this train and make a difference.”

He also praised his staff. “They are absolutely incredible, and they give me the freedom to do the things that I need to do on behalf of the organization.”


You may also like:

Palmer amaranth resistance spreads in Texas High Plains

Cotton Incorporated’s Kater Hake: Reasons for optimism exist for cotton…

When’s a farm bill coming? Anybody’s guess

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith 1

Senior Content Director, Farm Press/Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 40 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. More recently, he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Plant Protection Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Johnson City, Tenn. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and three grandsons, Aaron, Hunter and Walker.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like