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Weather conditions destroy millions of Texas cotton acreage

Losses continue to mount throughout the state as extreme heat and lack of rainfall have destroyed up to 2 million acres of cotton, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

“The last estimate on cotton losses in the South Plains was 1.3 million acres,” said Travis Miller, Extension program leader for soil and crop science. “I know we’ve lost in excess of 300,000 acres along the Gulf Coast. And we’ve also lost a considerable number of sorghum and soybean acres.”

Seventy percent of the soybean crop in North Texas has already been baled, Miller said. Much of the corn throughout the Blacklands region in Central Texas and south of Victoria has been lost or has had exceptionally low yields due to drought, he said.

“And it’s no secret we’ve lost a whole lot of forage,” Miller said. “We’ve seen record numbers of light-weight calves go to the feedlots, and ranchers continue to cull herds to get numbers down to meet available forage. There’s very short supplies of hay and very little has been made. It doesn’t look good for this winter.”

A good hay cutting can still be produced “if we were to get favorable rains, and rains this fall would help producers grow winter pastures for grazing, reducing the need for hay, which is in very short supply,” he said.

“Really, the only bright spots have been along the Gulf Coast north of Victoria,” Miller said. “They’ve had some pretty good cotton and corn, and some soybeans in that area. There’s also been excessive rains in some places, which has probably hurt the rice crop, but that’s only in an isolated area.”

Extension officials provided the following regional reports:

SOUTH PLAINS: Weather continues to be hot and dry with temperatures reaching 100 F or more. Rainfall received in some areas ranging from 0.5 inches to 1 inch. Soil moisture is very short to short. Cotton is in fair condition. Cotton crop conditions continue to decline. Dryland cotton is blooming and many irrigated fields are at or near cutout. Corn is in good to excellent condition. Irrigation has been running non-stop and corn is reaching the dent stage. Some corn will begin to dry down in a couple of weeks. Peanuts are in fair to good condition; they are pegging and irrigation continues. Irrigated sorghum looks good; dryland sorghum is in poor condition due to drought and extreme heat. Pumpkins are progressing well and irrigation continues. Pastures and ranges are in very poor to poor condition, and rainfall is needed. Livestock producers are having difficulty locating forage and hay sources.

ROLLING PLAINS: Hot and dry conditions continue. Dryland cotton has declined over the past two weeks with essentially no moisture left in the soil to sustain the plant. Haygrazer is mostly dead throughout the majority of the district. Tanks are drying up or have already gone dry. Fire danger is steadily increasing as the weather continues to be hot and dry. Many ranchers are culling older cows to help with drought conditions.

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