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Texas High Plains yields drop below original forecasts

• By Seshadri Ramkuma •

Texas High Plains cotton harvest

The effects of a hot, dry summer are showing up in reduced yields on the Texas High Plains — photo courtesy Texas Farm Bureau

Yields in the High Plains of Texas are expected to be below what was originally forecast.

“Yields are 25% to 30% off the normal,” said Mark Brown, director of field services for Lubbock, Texas-based Plains Cotton Growers Inc. During the Nov. 15 meeting of all the stakeholders from the cotton sector, discussion centered on this year’s cotton harvest in the High Plains, the largest cotton growing region in the United States. The meeting also had an international visitor from the prestigious CSIRO research agency in Australia.

Harvest is estimated at 50% to 60% complete in the High Plains and is resuming after rains last week in some areas, such as Gaines County.

“Harvest is picking-up,” said Steve Verett, PCG CEO. The hot summer has seriously affected this year’s crop.

Rain in August is crucial for the yield and quality of cotton.

“Each additional inch of rain in August may help with as much as an additional 100 pounds of cotton,” said Glen Ritchie, chair of the Texas Tech University Plant and Soil Science Department.

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The problem has been hot temperatures and no rain in late summer, he said. Recently, the dramatic adjustment of yield by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from its earlier estimates clearly attests to the expected lower production. Hot weather will also affect the irrigated cotton, which will result in their yields off from the normal level.

With regard to plastic contamination, crop classed in the Lubbock classic office shows the industry has really handled the issue well, which is a positive aspect for importing countries.

The latest estimate is that the High Plains of Texas is expected to produce 3.78 million 480-pound bales.

Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, is a professor in the Texas Tech University Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory in Lubbock, Texas. He may be reached at s.ramkumar@ttu.edu