35% of area’s dryland cotton abandoned, number expected to rise

Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 8:54 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - More than 30% of dryland cotton planted in this area has been abandoned. This comes after a tough growing season with very little rainfall and extreme heat.

Plains Cotton Growers covers 42 counties in the Texas High Plains. Shawn Wade, Director of Policy, Analysis and Research, said as of Nov. 1, 35% of the dryland acres in those counties have been abandoned.

“Over the last month or so, we’ve begun to see more and more of our dryland acres be failed out,” Wade said.

Wade says it’s a loss of more than one million dryland acres across the area this season. He expects that number to rise during the next two to four weeks.

“We anticipate that number to continue to kind of grow as growers are, even today, continuing to make decision on fields whether to harvest or not to harvest,” Wade said.

That’s accompanied by less cotton being planted at the start of the season. Wade said farmers in this area normally plant about 3.7 million acres, and this year they only planted about 3.3 million.

“When we got those big rainfall events back in June, we had so much rainfall in some areas during such a short period of time, some areas were too wet to plant in a timely fashion,” Wade said.

After that rain, Wade said we got very little during the growing season and extremely hot temperatures were rough on the cotton.

“Simply didn’t have the weather conditions necessary to create good yields, and a lot of those fields are in such poor condition that they’re actually being failed and not taken all the way to harvest,” Wade said.

This is the second year in a row king cotton hasn’t had the best of luck. Wade said the infrastructure around the crop will struggle once again.

“Probably a little bit better than the 2022 season, but not overall very much different and will still create a lot of stress for our local infrastructure, especially the cotton gins, warehouses and such,” Wade said.

As farmers continue to decide if they will harvest some fields, Wade expects the final report will show about 60% of the dryland acres will be harvested this season.