Two months ago, most observers were predicting a 9 million bale cotton crop for Texas. It was being called a surefire record-breaker. As it turns out, it will still be a big crop, but may fall short of those lofty projections.
Many have pointed to the hailstorm that hit the High Plains on Oct. 21 as the reason for lower estimates. But, according to Plains Cotton Growers Inc., executive vice president Steve Verett, it was a case of earlier estimates simply being too high.
“Most of the irrigated crop acreage wasn’t coming in as high as producers had anticipated,” says Verett. “On the other hand, the dryland producers pretty much got the crop they expected. I think their expectations were a bit lower.”
Optimism On High Plains
Even with the overall lower numbers for the state, Verett still thinks there is a chance the High Plains could hit 5.7 million bales, which would exceed the record of 5.6 million bales set in 2005.
“If this crop can avoid any untimely weather in the final weeks of harvest, it’s still going to be one of the highest quality crops we’ve ever had,” he says. “Cotton classed thus far at Lubbock shows 95 percent grades of 31 or better, 36 staple, 4.00 micronaire, 30.26 strength, 80.6 uniformity and only 7 percent bark.”
Verett also points to a lack of rainfall on the High Plains in August as another contributing factor to the lower crop projections.
“If we had received a good two- or three-inch rain in August, it would’ve made a big difference,” he says. “I can see how folks might’ve thought we would hit 9 million bales in the state. The abandonment rate was really low, and everything seemed to be lining up for that huge crop.”
Attractive High Prices
Another reason for extra optimism among Texas producers this year is the improved price of cotton. Verett isn’t sure if anyone was in a position to take advantage of the dollar-plus prices, but he knows that the environment has created more optimism.
Regardless of whether producers booked cotton at current prices or forward contracted, the situation is vastly improved compared to recent years.
“No matter how you view the season, the quality crop and better prices have been a nice combination for us,” says Verett.
Regardless of the final crop projections, it’s been another wild ride for Texas cotton producers.
“Every year is definitely different,” says Verett with a laugh. “But that’s the way it is on the High Plains.”
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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