By admin       2018-09-18

ABILENE, Texas — Last year, the Big Country had a decent cotton crop. In the past couple of weeks, parts of the Big Country have seen rainfall that was beneficial for the cotton fields, and with fall closely approaching, it is almost that time of year to harvest the cotton. This year, cotton farmers had high hopes of having a good cotton season, but with a dry winter and spring, more than half of the cotton fields dried up. More than 100,000 acres of cotton were planted over the last year and around 40,000 acres of cotton survived, with the rest of the cotton being lost due to the dry weather. Jones County Extension Agent Steve Estes said that the dry weather prior to summer plays an important role in the life of the cotton. “Coming out of a dry winter and dry spring, we had limited underground deep soil moisture, so it made it really tough on planting the first of our 2018 crop,” stated Estes. However, the late summer rain has been beneficial for the cotton. The rain that has fallen in the late summer will not help the amount of cotton that is produced, but does help the quality of the cotton, making a better lent. “It won’t necessarily help make it have a higher yield, cause we’re getting close to harvest later this fall, but what it will do, it will help with the lent quality, which is a big plus for farmers," Estes said. The drier weather leaves the plants under stress, which can affect the growth, but the rain that fell helped to relieve the plants and will help them before harvesting. The summer rains have been isolated across the Big Country. Certain areas saw more rain than others, and depending on how heavy the rain fell, some of the cotton fields were washed out. Estes said that the Big Country may not come out making as much cotton this year compared to last year. “Some areas may see some decent yields on their cotton, but most and overall, our yields are going to be a little lower this year then what they have been compared [to] the year prior," said Estes. The quality of the cotton is what determines the price at which farmers can sell it. In the weeks before harvesting, Estes said that to get better quality cotton, the plants need warm and sunny days. Harvesting season for the Big Country begins in mid-October and can run all the way out into December.

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