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Record cotton haul for Oklahoma this year

Lawton_It's still summertime and while the livin' may not be that easy, the cotton is high.  In spite of early spring storms and a brief drought in August, the Oklahoma Cotton Council says this year's cotton crop may be the biggest in Oklahoma history.  If that were to happen, it would be the second straight record-breaking haul.  It's an amazing turnaround considering that only four years ago, the harvest was so bad, cotton farmers all over Oklahoma were ready to call it quits. 

Cotton farmers don't spend their days hand picking cotton any longer.  Everything is left to technology, and while farmers say the technology can't guarantee a successful crop, they say it increases the chances.  Cotton crops once had a chance of being pestered with boll weevils, weeds, and pesticide overdose, and because of that, cotton farmer Kenneth Niebruegge of Snyder says they raised very little.  "Right here we used to raise very little for about ten years, and now there is beginning to be a little of it coming back into the area," he said. 

Cotton specialist J.C. Banks of Altus says farmers have technology to thank for their record crop haul.  "The seed companies have placed in the cotton something that makes it resistant to damage by the boll worm," he said.  "It's got its own built in insecticide."  The bug proof seed is nearly $100 more expensive per acre, but the benefits outweigh the hefty price.  "It's making it a lot more convenient," said Banks.  "It's decreasing our cost, and more importantly it decreases the amount of pesticides we apply to this cotton."

Despite the fact that cotton farmers have come to rely on technology, Niebruegge says only mother nature can provide the key ingredients.  "Warm weather and plenty of moisture," he said.  "We've had some timely and beneficial rains."  Banks says cotton farmers may being doing well this season, but they must still keep a close watch on their cotton crops.  "Naturally if you put in all your money into a crop and it doesn't make money, it's like losing your job," he said. 

Banks also says that cotton farmers need more weather like we've seen this week.  He says more rain means more cotton that contributes to the $100 million Oklahoma cotton industry.  Since cotton farms have been unpredictable in the past, more farmers are double cropping.  Double cropping means that farmers will grow two different crops, such as wheat and cotton, on the same land at different times of the year.  This ensures the farmer will profit from at least one crop - and if they're lucky, two.

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