Record Rainfall Threatens Cotton Quality - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/24/04

Record Rainfall Threatens Cotton Quality

Of the 3.5 million acres of cotton in West Texas, only about 20% has been harvested. So farmers have been waiting for the wet weather to clear up. But it is now apparent what affect the wait may have on this year's crop.

"Normally this time of year, harvest operation are taking place," explains Roger Haldenby from Plains Cotton Growers. But they're not. He says harvest is at a standstill. This, after recent rain and snowfall. "It means the cotton in the field is waiting to be harvested," he says.

The West Texas weather has literally left both farmers and cotton hanging in there. Some of the cotton remaining in the field has a stretched look to it. This is caused by the recent moisture the cotton has absorbed, weighing it down. And as long as it doesn't fall out of the burr it can still be harvested, but it may lose quality. "There can be a certain loss of quality with continued wet conditions with some discoloration as the burr leaves, the various parts of the plant that are in contact with the white cotton can cause some stains," explains Haldenby.

So when will farmers be able to harvest the rest of their crops? "And the answer is either 4 to 5 days or even a week of decent dry weather to let the ground dry up so that'll allow harvesting operations to take place," he says.

Despite the setback, Haldenby says farmers still have blessings to be grateful for. "Well, I guess something farmers can be thankful for on Thanksgiving is they're going to get the opportunity to sit at the family table and have a hot Thanksgiving dinner instead of eating a turkey sandwich on the fly," says Haldenby.

But West Texas is still forecasted to have a record crop. Any more snow or rain could put an additional roadblock on this season's harvest.

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