GREGORY, Texas — Cotton harvest 2019 is underway in the nation’s top cotton growing state, and cotton producers are hoping to see a profit.
The key for cotton farmers right now is to keep things dry until the harvesting is completely done. Rain will only hurt the crop at this point.
Cotton pickers are rolling in South Texas, and farmers are saying yields are good, and may be stronger than 2017.
“We have been above average several of the last 5 years," said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist Dr. Josh McGinty. "2018 was a little rough for quite a few, but 2017 was a bumper crop. This is going to be a good year for sure. I think yields overall are going to be definitely above average,”
When farmers have a good crop season, it benefits everybody.
“It trickles down through various parts of the economy here," he said. "We have all the gins, all the employees that come and go with that, and the warehousing facilities. Then you trickle down to the textile industry at some level. It is a big impact, not just to the famers, but the whole community. This hot-and-dry South Texas weather is helping cotton farmers push out bales on a regular basis."
The downside, he siad, is that just in the past two days, the price of cotton has gone down.
“There is no reason it should be going down," said South Texas farmer Daniel Wendland. "The cotton planted acres are down, unless someone is playing political games. We really don’t know what the issue is for our prices to be down the way they are.”
Wheat, corn, sorghum, and now cotton are all going through a low market, making it hard for producers to make a profit on their product.
“Normally, we are getting about 80 cents a pound, and now we are down to high 50s at best," said Wendland. "So we are 30-35 percent off of what we normally get."
With the prices down, many of the area cotton producers will be forced to hold on to their crops.
“Most of the commodity will be held onto until prices come back up," he said. "Right now they are at levels we have seen in the 1960s. The prices are just not there, but we have made great crop."
If cotton farmers were to sell today, they would be selling for a loss.
Wendland said, for now, area farmers will be waiting for West Texas to harvest its cotton, and the Midwest to finish harvesting its grain. When they finish, they will have a more complete picture of the market.