Cotton production up in Texas, significant growth on South Plains - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/16/09

Cotton production up in Texas, significant growth on South Plains

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By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Despite concerns early in the season, 2009 is turning out to be a fairly good year for cotton. Production is slightly up across the state, but Roger Haldenby with Plains Cotton Growers says the South Plains expects a significant increase.

The Department of Agriculture estimates Texas will produce 4.9-million bails of cotton this year. That's up from 4.4-million a year ago.  If the estimates are realized, Texas will account for 39% of the nation's harvest.

The South Plains will make up a large portion of that. Haldenby says farmers here could see production increase by nearly 1-million bails when compared to last year. "It's a significant increase in the number of bails; we were well under 3-million bails last year, and I think that had an adverse impact on the Lubbock economy, but coming back up to a little less than 4-million bails in 2009, I think folks over the next several months will see just how much the Lubbock economy is impacted by agriculture, specifically cotton, which is really the underlying engine behind this area's economy," Haldenby said. 

Still, farmers saw a lot of crop damage.  Of the 3.3-million acres planted this year, only 2.5-million will be harvested. "When I'm enthusiastic about this year's cotton crop, we have to remember there's farmers with about 650,000 or more that their cotton crop didn't make it into this 2009 harvest season for several reasons, hail during the growing season, drought early where the seed didn't even get a start, and what we have a lot of in west Texas, blowing winds. All of that took a count of about 650,000 acres or so," Haldenby said. 

Haldenby tells us harvest is only between 30% to 50% complete. So, we asked how colder temperatures could affect farmers.  "Cold temperatures help, because that helps to make the plants ready for harvest and actually improves things. It's wetness, it's rainfall, it's blowing dirt and snow, and things like that we just don't want to see until the cotton is safely inside a module," Haldenby said. 

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