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Outlook Still Optimistic for Texas Cotton

All eyes are on Texas since Hurricane Harvey hit South East Texas.

Major industrial sectors in Texas such as cotton, oil refineries and transportation have been hard hit by the natural disaster. Harvey has faded to a depression now, but the loss to lives and properties have been huge. There have been more than 30 fatalities, and damages are in the billions.

The global impact has been such that my friends from Indian cities Chennai and Ahmedabad have been asking about my well-being, although I live in West Texas. Harvey has put Texas in the living rooms of many some 10,000 miles away.

Cotton fields in South Texas have been flooded with harvested modules damaged. This would of course, impact ginning and the quality of the harvested crop. While Harvey was about to make landfall August 25, cotton industry people met in the Plains Cotton Growers’ office in Lubbock. Discussions centered on Harvey’s potential impact and cotton production this year. Industry leaders and participants at the meeting had the South Texas cotton industry in their minds and were hoping for the best.

While touring Lubbock this past week, Dr. Kater Hake, vice president, Agricultural and Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated, showed me some pictures he received of cotton fields in South Texas that showcased damages to modules sitting in flooded fields.

This year’s crop in South Texas has been mostly harvested, with tremendous yields as high as 3.5 to 4 bales in some fields. It is the cotton from this region that gets exported first every year. Mother Nature’s havoc would certainly influence ginning and the export of cotton from the belt that was hard hit by Harvey. This has also influenced the market.  But over the long run, fundamentals will set the price right.

Turning attention to the High Plains – the epicenter of cotton activities away from the Harvey zone – weather has been pleasant. The mood is upbeat about this year’s crop, and there will be a lot of cotton. The High Plains crop is looking good with less insect pressure, and weed issues have been well controlled.

“Tremendously clean fields,” stated Peter Dotray, professor of weed science in Lubbock.

Given the congenial weather so far, there will be a bumper crop in Texas. Hopes are high such that expectations for the Texas crop will be about 9.5 million bales, with the High Plains contributing as much as 5.75 million bales. These expectations are higher than the latest projections from USDA, which showed 8.8 million bales from Texas and about 5.2 million bales from the High Plains.

“I am optimistic about a good crop this year coming along,” stated Hake. Similar optimism is also prevalent in India, with regard to its cotton crop this season.

“It all depends upon good warm weather between now and the September-October timeframe,” cautioned Shawn Wade of Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.

Let us hope for the best for the South Texas cotton industry. My sincere prayers for all those affected by Harvey, and I wish them safety and well-being.

 

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