Drought Drying Up South Plains Cotton Crops - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/27/03

Drought Drying Up South Plains Cotton Crops

Lifetime Cotton Farmer David Jones is looking at the worst dryland crop he's ever produced. "The sad part about it is this is the sixth or seventh year that we haven't had a dryland crop and the dryland crop is uaually what carries people in our area."

Almost half of the South Plains cotton crop is dryland cotton. Rain is the only thing that makes it grow. It hasn't had rain in over two months. "We were just one inch away from making a good crop. Now we're just back to the same we've had in six years. We haven't had a dryland crop in 6 years." The damage this year is clear. "If you'll notice, two little bolls, that hey, it's just not there!"

Jones says the damage gets worse everyday without rain. "They're just drying up and falling off. This is the blooms that make bolls and we just didn't have enough water to retain them on the stalk, that's nature's way of kicking them off."  If this continues, David will be lucky if 10% of his crop survives. "Our dryland we're pretty well just wrote it off. It's not going to be just a little bit better than worth stripping."

So, this year, Jones' irrigated crop will be his only chance at making a profit. "Hey you have to keep doing whatever it takes to make it work. That's what our livlihood is."

Officials at Plains Cotton Growers say one million acres have already been lost to hail this year. Now about a third of the crop will be lost to drought. With harvest time only a month away, rain now would be too late. Jones says he will harvest his cotton and hopes insurance will cover the losses.

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