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Texas cotton crops face trouble following drought, hail and wind

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Texas may be the nation's leading cotton-producing state, but thanks to varied weather conditions, this year's cash crop might not be quite as fruitful.

It's been said over and over, the drought is killing our crops. But this year, it's more than just the dry weather that's robbed our region of more than half of its cotton crop.

"Well, it's a gamble," joked area farmer Tom Schlabs, but it's a bet the Texas cotton crop is losing to Mother Nature.

"Here on the High Plains where we're at, if you had any irrigated, it's good," explained General Manager of the Hereford Farmers Fin, David Varner. "If you had any dry land, it doesn't exist anymore."

More than 50 percent of this region's planted cotton crops were not irrigated this year and have now vanished, leaving less than 40 percent of the cotton - the crop that was irrigated - to be harvested.

"What irrigated cotton we've got left is in really good shape and has good yield potential, but you know, we're a long ways from harvesting this crop," added Varner.

      Even the irrigated land has suffered its own attacks from the weather.

"The irrigated got off to a decent start and then we had some storms that brought the winds and the sand," said Schlabs. "Then in July, the crop starts looking pretty good and then we got a hail storm that's taken out a good part of my crop."

 Schlabs lost about 75 percent of his cotton crop this year.  But even now, he said, it's a gamble he'll continue to take.

"Cotton is the most deficient on water usage and we plan to keep it."

Despite the cotton crop struggles in the High Plains, industry experts say other places in the state have suffered worse, particularly the Valley, where even lower yields are expected.

 

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