Littlefield cotton farmer replanting after hail damage

Littlefield farmers replanting cotton after storms

LITTLEFIELD, Texas (KCBD) - It was a nice season for planting, for a while.

"We planted a bunch. We got a lot of our cotton. We had good moisture for most places," said Brad Heffington, owner of Heffington Farms in Littlefield.

But then, rain and hail started to hit hard, particularly last Saturday.

"We had a few farms that we were too dry. We finally got rain on them Saturday, but hailed out a lot of our cotton that was up, so we're having to start over. We just got a truckload this morning."

Hail damage to Littlefield cotton crops (Source: KCBD Video)
Hail damage to Littlefield cotton crops (Source: KCBD Video)
Hail damage to Littlefield cotton crops (Source: KCBD Video)
Hail damage to Littlefield cotton crops (Source: KCBD Video)

He said he has not seen a storm that bad and he's been growing for over 30 years.

"Farmers are pretty optimistic. We've got sub-soil moisture and surface-moisture going. We'd like to get this crop up and going. If we can get it in by next week, we'll be okay. After that, it will start to get a little late and we might start to look at some different crops, faster crops like corn or grain - sorghum, or something like that."

Saturday's floods left some of his fields unrecognizable right after the severe weather.

"[It was] probably the worst I've seen in 30 years, so all of the cotton that was up… We got 3.7 inches of rain in 25 minutes… I had water going over the county road and over on the highway."

He said that with rain, a crust forms on top of the little plant that's starting to sprout and makes it hard for it to continue to grow. To solve this problem, he says that farmers "scratch" the fields, but sometimes when scratching doesn't work, they have to replant, which is more expensive.

"So, when you've got something like this where it's sprouted and you think it can come up, you're a lot better off scratching it up because it costs $8 an hour."

He says hail is a like a razor blade for cotton, especially the little pieces, which they saw last weekend. Now, he's replanting, and he has a lot of work to do.

"Believe it or not, small hail is worse for cotton. Big hail can actually hit it and pound it and bruise it up and sometimes it can survive it, but little hail is just like razor blades when the wind is blowing… it just shreds it. We've probably had half of ours up," Heffington said.

Heffington says he plants around 16,000 acres a year. Brad wanted to emphasize that he’s grateful for the rain and even calls it a “blessing”, but says that rain can be a challenge when there’s too much.

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