A combination of weather factors has merged to reduce Texas cotton yields by as much as 50 percent. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that cotton producers in West Texas’ South Plains are forecast to harvest 1.86 million acres, which is down from the 3.7 million that was planted in the spring.
Weather events such as an ongoing drought, hail and blowing sand have carved away millions of acres of cotton production this year. The drought has been occurring over several years and is not expected to end any time soon.
“Texas is the nation's leading cotton-producing state and the South Plains typically produces two-thirds of the state total. But don't worry blue-jean and cotton-clothing enthusiasts, there's plenty of the fluffy fiber left to go around, thanks to carry-over from prior years' harvests worldwide,” the Associated Press reported.
Irrigated cotton is doing much better than non-irrigated cotton, although reports of hail last week, damaged crops.
It has been reported that last year, the state produced 5 million bales, with 2.93 million bales coming from West Texas. This year, the region is forecast to harvest 2.57 million of the state's 4.1 million bales, a 12 percent drop from 2012. Nationally, 12.5 million bales are expected to be harvested, down 25 percent from 2012's production of 16.5 million bales.
Despite the challenging growing conditions, cotton farmers are not expected to drop out of the business due to crop insurance, which allows producers to get back what they put into planting a crop.