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Web Exclusive | July 2017

Threat to cotton in US High Plains

Early season drought, followed by hail storms and hot, dry, windy weather is taking a toll on High Plains cotton prospects in the US. Estimating just how much cotton has been abandoned, however, remains a challenge, says Texas A&M AgriLife Extension cotton specialist Seth Byrd, in Lubbock.

“Trying to estimate overall damage on an area as large as the High Plains and with the amount of cotton acres we have is challenging,” Byrd says. “There are certainly areas where a higher percentage of cotton has been lost, while in others the crop looks great.” He says the “badly damaged portion” of the crop accounts for much more acreage than the amount that has been or will be abandoned.

“Everything from widespread early season drought to scattered hail storms has affected a good portion, but as far as how much of this will be actually abandoned across the entire region, my guess at this point would be around 10 per cent to 16 per cent. That’s taking into account the entire High Plains.”

Byrd says the overall High Plains estimate does not include crops that were lost then replanted to uninsured or “wildcat” cotton. “So this number has the potential to climb as the season goes on, but as of now, I’m counting a cotton acre as a cotton acre whether it’s the first, second, or third planting.”

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