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Harvey Slams Coastal TX Cotton Industry

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Josh McGinty

 

By Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife

Hurricane Harvey and its after-effects have the Coastal Texas cotton industry reeling, according to Texas A&M AgriLife experts.

Dr. John Robinson, College Station, said harvest activities were 40% complete leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Harvey and estimated 300,000 to 400,000 bales of cotton were still on the stalk prior to the storm.

“One producer I talked to said three quarters of his cotton was on the ground from the heavy rain and high winds,” he said.

Harvested cotton could also be impacted, he said.

Dr. Josh McGinty, AgriLife Extension agronomist, Corpus Christi, said cotton in his area would be fine as damaging winds and flooding occurred further north.

“There was some damage to modules, but north, Refugio County and beyond, they’re in pretty rough shape,” he said.

McGinty said there were reports of cotton modules being scattered by high winds or standing in water.

“There were a lot of cotton in modules sitting in gin yards or on the roadside,” he said. “There was a lot of flooding and wind, so that could damage those modules and decrease grades. It’s not just yield losses, there are likely to be losses in quality.”

Torrential rains, high winds and flooding may have hurt yields and quality, but the moisture also poses threats to producers, such as sprouting cotton seeds and aflatoxin in cottonseed. Ginning costs are typically covered by the seed value.

“Seed will be worth less due to sprouting, and that means those producers will have to pay extra to cover the cost of ginning,” he said. “In those areas where modules remained wet for extended periods of time, we could see aflatoxin, which means if the levels are high enough, seed cannot be safely utilized as feed.”

McGinty said another potential problem is damage sustained by cotton gin facilities within the hurricane’s path.

“There was damage to gins, but I am not sure to what extent at this point,” he said. “The gin in Bayside is likely done for the season. That just adds to a whole host of issues producers face right now and that will play out over the next few weeks.”

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