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Local cotton farmers are planting late but are optimistic

Posted at 7:43 AM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-29 08:44:45-04

The past 2 season’s local cotton farms had to deal with a hurricane, government shutdown, and tariffs.

It’s been tough for many cotton farmers.

Despite some setbacks, cotton growers are feeling optimistic and looking to rebound in 2019.

It’s a question South Texas farmers never thought they’d have to ask.How much rain is too much? Wet fields and cool soil temperatures have delayed a planting season that would be bustling at this point if not for our unpredictable weather.

“Some people like to plant at the end of February, but this year with limited seed supply and some quality problems, we have held up and waited for our grounds to warm up. So it is warm now, and we are planting,” said cotton farmer Walt Franke.

Entering his forty-first cotton season, Walt Franke, with the help of his dog Daisy, have been working from sun up to sun down planting cotton seed over 7,000 acres.

“We only got 24 hours a day to do it just like everybody else. We pretty well get it done, and I feel like everybody seems like everyone has been able to get their crop in,” said Franke.

The overall mood in the cotton industry is cautiously optimistic.

“You can start out rough and everything against you, and it seems like it won’t work out, and it turns out really well. So we have to let Mother Nature take care of that,” said Franke.

Franke says two main key factors that are likely to contribute to a big 2019 crop: poor prices on crops like corn, soybeans and peanuts, which will drive farmers to plant more cotton.

“So right now we have an abundance of cotton, and you never know when that is going to change. We can just consider ourselves lucky we are not going through what the folks in the Midwest are going through,” said Franke.

This cotton season looks good because of the ground moisture, and with a few good rains, it should be great yields, but prices and cotton contracts are low.

And it probably won’t impact the consumer at the end of the day since we account for less than 10 percent of the US crop in South Texas.

Those that don’t finish planting soon may be approaching final planting dates for insurance purposes, depending on the location. Also the later we plant, the more risk of losing it at harvest in late August through September to tropical weather.