About 20% to 25% of cotton bolls on the South Plains have started opening up. Before a few days ago they were dry and fluffy, now they're just sopping wet. Roger Haldenby with Plains Cotton Growers says, "Rainfall like this can have an impact on the quality of that cotton that's already open. Dirt or sand splashing up and rain getting into the locks of cotton that are open can cause damage."
Cotton farmers depend on warm, sunny weather this time of year to increase their crops' yield. The end of September and the month of October are critical times when weather helps a crop fill out and come to maturity. Swisher County farmer, Dale Swinburn, says, "Our preference would be to have some sunshine and warm weather and hold the moisture off until we get this crop out."
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Beyond the cotton itself, muddy fields prevent farmers like Swinburn from getting out and performing the field operations necessary this time of year. He says, "It's just physically impossible to do some things when the soil gets wet."
Haldenby says the rain itself shouldn't effect un-opened bolls on cotton plants. He says even crops hit hard by hail on Saturday in North Crosby County might stand a chance. He says, "I would hope as long as it didn't knock the bolls off and as long as it didn't bruise the bolls too badly, hopefully some of those guys will be able to finish off that crop and get it open and harvested."
Cotton is paid for by the pound and those pounds are priced by quality. So depending on how hard a farmer was hit, what stage his crop is at, and how much longer this weather continues, it could mean money out of farmers' pockets.