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Texas High Plains cotton crop conditions vary

The 2024 cotton crop is off to a better start but conditions vary as producers battle hail, wind, triple-digit temperatures, and spotty rainfall.

Kara Bishop, Plains Cotton Growers, Director of Communications and Public Affairs

June 10, 2024

2 Min Read
cotton emerging
While cotton planting conditions are better across the Texas High Plains, producers are still battling drought in some areas and the repercussions of hail and damaging wind in others.Shelley E. Huguley

While planters are still rolling, it’s estimated that 75% of the cotton planted on Texas High Plains is complete. Some areas received spring moisture, while others are still coming up short.

The storm that hit Levelland, New Home and Tahoka in late May wreaked havoc on the communities and surrounding farmland. Mark Brown, Plains Cotton Growers field services director, said he counted 16 overturned pivots while driving to Big Spring, June 6. “And that was just what I could see from the highway,” he added. With Hockley County’s planting deadline already passed (June 5) and Lynn County’s planting deadline today, the damaged irrigation equipment is concerning for cotton producers in these areas.

While the Texas High Plains planting conditions are better than they were last year, it's a mixed bag of circumstances across the region. Producer reports show the good, bad and the ugly as cotton emerges. “The leaf was laying right there on the ground and it just looked dehydrated,” said Walt Hagood, a Hockley County producer.

“I’ve seen those cotyledons kind of hunkered down and sometimes you dig and find the roots are in moisture,” said Ken Legé, cotton Extension specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Lubbock. “However, when it’s 100 degrees outside, sometimes that soil is 120 to 135 degrees, and the effect of the demand has those cotyledons folding.”

Related:Oklahoma wheat harvest returns after rain delays

Subsoil moisture deficit

Subsoil moisture, or a lack thereof, is creating challenges for Lubbock County producers. “When the ground below is so dry, it’s like a big dead battery and it pulls the juice from what you’ve got on top,” said producer Burt Heinrich, Lubbock. “The 100-degree weather is obviously a factor, but it’s also the dirt underneath that’s pulling the moisture down below where the root can reach. It makes the inch of rain you get a little more ineffective when the subsoil is parched.”

However, Heinrich said he's seen some good cotton in the area, even with the subsoil deficit. “I would say it’s not the average yet, but a lot of cotton can become close to what we expect to see. We got a rain (June 6) last night nearly everywhere on our farms, and any rain right now will help that little plant if it doesn’t storm it out.”

According to the June 3-U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Texas Crop Progress and Conditions Report released June 3, upland cotton is predominantly in “good” condition at 47% for the week (ending June 2). The South Texas’ crop appears to be in good condition, but producers are dealing with abnormal drought and need "a good rain" to maintain the progress they’ve made as they approach harvest.

Related:Demand for Texas rural land continues, slows

*This article was published June 7. As of the publication date, June 10, a large portion of the Texas High Plains is receiving some much-needed rainfall.

About the Author(s)

Kara Bishop, Plains Cotton Growers

Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Plains Cotton Growers

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