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Mother Nature puts South Texas cotton farmers 2 months behind schedule

Posted at 6:48 AM, Apr 24, 2019

It’s hard to make predictions about ‘Mother Nature’ and often, that’s the consequence for farmers.

During planting season, right up until harvest season, many cotton farmers have high hopes for a good crop.

With the recent strong winds and rain, many cotton farmers are now 2 months behind schedule.

The high winds we received in the Coastal Bend beginning April 10th caused significant damage to cotton in the seedling stage, and now some area cotton farmers are replanting for a second time.

“As we plant later and later, that means we are going to harvest later and later, and we have more risk of losing the crop at that point too. So hopefully this replant will be the last one, and we can get the crop out before any serious weather starts in the fall,” said  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agronomist Dr. Josh McGinty.

When winds reach 30 mph or greater, sand particles will start to lift and blow which will cause damage to the leaves and stem tissue of young cotton plants.

“That is a problem because cotton is kind of a weak plant at that point, slow growing, it doesn’t have any bark formed on the stem yet so as we have blowing soil particles, and it is mostly sand soils down here, we can actually lose cotton, and we have seen that across tens of thousands of acres across this lower coastal area, ” said McGinty.

When Mother Nature throws a wrench in the works, as she does every season, farmers know all they can do is hope for the best.

“Every year, to some extent, there is blowing sand and replant issues. It just seems that we all have a little tougher time this year than the last three or so years,” said McGinty.

This could be a ripple effect that can potentially affect a lot of folks down the road.

“It is not just the farms and the employees of the farms. We have a tremendous ginning industry down here that employs a lot of folks, the warehousing industry, shipping everything, a lot of our cotton goes out through the port here so everything has a trickle down effect if we do have a problem on the production side in the field,” said McGinty.

For now cotton farmers are still in good shape… but, unfortunately, there is still plenty of time for problems to arise thanks to Mother Nature.