It took just three days for severe weather to destroy what took Keith Marble five months to grow. "It started out marble-sized and then it increased up to golf ball sized hail," says Marble a Floyd County farmer.
After Sunday's hailstorm, 5,500 acres of what was once a lush green cotton field now whithers in the aftermath. And two days later it's been nothing short of a chain reaction. "It's all over with now. It's really a mess," he says.
One thousand acres, almost half of his grain sorghum hangs lifeless. "It's broke over, the heads are split and broke over that there is seed on the ground," says Keith.
And once a colorful symbol of the pumpkin capital of the world, these precious pumpkins sit helplessly battered. Not a one will be carved into a festive Jack-O-Lantern in the weeks to come.
"It will run and turn sour on your front porch," says Keith. Pumpkins may look very durable on the outside bit in fact they're actually very delicate. After the damage Marble's pumpkins suffered from this weekend's hailstorms, the pumpkins will start to rot in just a few days. "Before the hailstorm they were excellent quality," says Keith. It might put a damper on Halloween.
For him and other West Texas farmers it's a bad ending to one of the worst growing seasons in many years. "At this time of year it's as bad as I've had," says Keith.
At least it's the worst, he's seen in more than 40 years of farming. But, it's too late to start over. "We've got all our money in it. The crops mature and got irrigation and fertilizer costs and you just don't reap anything out of it," says Keith.
And despite wanting to give up. "Sometimes it makes you want to go and sell newspapers it's a hard life at times but it is a good life. Keith keeps growing. "I like it. We raised our children farming. Sometimes it's hard to take a hit like this but farming is a good life," says Keith.
More than half of our cotton remains in the field waiting for harvest, and another hailstorm could mean more losses in the weeks to come.
So far this year, damage estimates for the South Plains cotton crop stand at over one million acres. Keith Marble will now have to rely on crop insurance to get him through this year, as will dozens of other West Texas Farmers.