Nobody is hitting the panic button just yet. There is still time for some needed rainfall in Texas that would end a long drought and give hope to cotton farmers in all regions of the state. But, as we roll into the month of May, the clock is definitely starting to tick.
Several weeks ago when I was in Lubbock at the Texas Cotton Ginners and Plains Cotton Growers annual meetings, the mood was just about unanimous that the La Nina pattern would break up in May – thus ending a predictable dry weather pattern in the state. So far, that prediction hasn’t come to full fruition, or, put another way, it hasn’t happened as quickly as some had hoped.
Most producers in West Texas say they can wait until June 1 to plant, and they still have confidence that the rainfall patterns will change in May. In a sense, they already have changed. There has definitely been more rainfall this year as compared to this same time period a year ago. But more rain is needed in order to help cotton planting begin on schedule.
Texas is such a large state that it’s possible to have contrasting weather patterns in several regions. For example, the eastern part of the state has had some regular rainfall that helped farmers on several fronts. The drought recovery was proceeding quite nicely. Corn was being planted. Cotton farmers were doing land preparation, and water supplies were increasing in ponds and stock tanks.
However, as Texas AgriLife Extension agronomist Robert Burns recently reported, many farmers in the eastern part of the state are worried that this drought recovery won’t last long enough. Conversely, he says that many parts of West Texas actually haven’t emerged from last year’s drought.
There is still time for the necessary rain to occur in May. But if the La Nina pattern is actually going to break up and end this spring, now is the time for it to happen. Cotton farmers don’t need 100 degree temperatures and high winds this month. Instead, they need some soaking rains that will help this cotton crop to be planted on time.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.