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Cotton harvest back on the rise after years of struggle

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

ALTUS, OK (KSWO) -After struggling through a few dry, harsh years cotton production in Oklahoma has rebounded making this its best year since 1949.

The crop hit a record low back in 2011, as the state struggled through a long drought, but thanks to this year's timely rainfall, production has skyrocketed.
With about two weeks of harvest time remaining, farmers have produced 565-thousand bales this year.  That is 51 percent higher than a year ago. 

Cotton fields in southwest Oklahoma are in full bloom and for gin manager, Brandon Varner, he's thankful to have a good year. He says it might be some of the best cotton they've ever made, thanks to a lot of  moisture in September and October and also a few timely doses of rain during the growing season.

"Cotton's been real good," said Varner. "There's been dry land cotton making twice what it normally does. It's just been a real good year."

"We just got lucky this year because we had a really good spring and summer rainfall," said Boman."Had a great fall to get the crop matured out. Again, we're sitting here with record yields at over 950 pounds per acre. Two years back to back record yields. We're very pleased with that."

State Extension Cotton Specialist for OSU, Randy Boman says farmers harvested only 70 thousand acres during the state's record low in 2011. This year the state has harvested 285 thousand acres. 

"There are a lot of growers here that are very, very good at growing and producing cotton," said Boman. "Number two, we have a lot of gins and they serve those growers and serve the industry."

Varner says they've ginned around 22 thousand bales so far and have about 2 months left before they're done. He says cotton has and will continue to be one of Southwest Oklahoma's most valuable crop.

"Cotton is a very important crop for Southwest Oklahoma," said Varner. "You just count the people out in that Gin that we employee and there's lots of folks that work because of cotton."

Cotton in Oklahoma typically brings in about 90 million dollars of state revenue. Oklahoma cotton farms also produce 2 percent of the nation's total cotton crop.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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