West Texas farmers turn to alternate crops as cotton demand drops

Published: Feb. 11, 2015 at 11:28 PM CST|Updated: Aug. 12, 2015 at 10:28 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Here in West Texas we know cotton is king, but the royal crop could be replaced in some South Plains fields by the next harvest season.

An overproduction of cotton across the globe is causing the value of the crop to decrease, so some farmers are now adding backup crops to compensate.

China has around 60 million bales of cotton in stock right now, while last year the United States produced around 13 million bales.

According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, an estimated 850,000 acres of Texas cotton fields will be replaced with other crops next year.

Darren Hudson is a professor of Agriculture at Texas Tech.

He says this is all part of a cycle, but he has hope for an upswing in cotton's value.

"In the next couple of years we will probably see some improvement and move back in that direction, but right now cotton is under a lot of pressure in the economy," Hudson said.

That's encouraging many area farmers to incorporate more than just cotton in their fields, including south Lubbock farmer Dahlen Hancock.

"Whatever crop looks like it will produce the most cash, that's what they're trying to plant," Hancock says. "It's mainly going to be cotton first, then corn and grain sorghum behind that. Grain sorghum is less risky as far as cost up front."

Some varieties of corn crops are more drought tolerant, making that another option for some farmers.

Many farmers are rotating crops in their fields right now. Hancock says that process gives the soil a boost and can provide a field for cattle to graze.

"That's a product that's there that can be used, and a lot of cattle guys are liking that because they can graze it. So I think we are all just trying to find a balance and harmony between crops during these tough times."

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