COLLEGE STATION — The weather has been good for this year’s cotton crop, much unlike the droughty conditions of 1996.
The latest estimate places the Texas crop at 5.4 million bales, up from a little over 4.3 million last year, according to Dr. Carl Anderson, agricultural economist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Last year’s crop was devastated by drought; however, timely rains this year have boosted yields, Anderson said.
“We had the moisture (earlier in the season), but the crop got a little bit too late of a start. Then it turned too hot and dry in July and August for cotton fields to produce a full crop, but it’s been so much better than last year,” he said.
Texas producers lost 1.6 million acres between planting and harvest because of the 1996 drought, he said.
The cotton fields in the Corpus Christi region — just recently harvested — are expected to yield twice as much as they did last year when the tallies are all done, he said. Those producers were severely impacted by drought last year.
Producers in the northcentral regions of the state who have not yet harvested may be plagued and delayed by rains this week.
Cotton is growing well in the Lubbock area and in West Texas — which is harvested in November and December — because of the timely rainfall, Anderson said.
Texas is still the leading cotton producing state in the nation. The overall crop in the United States is estimated at 18.4 million bales
Prices, on the other hand, are a little weaker than last year, he said. Prices in futures trading are ranging between 65 and 70 cents per pound this year, compared to 72 to 78 cents per pound last year, he said.
“We’ve got adequate supplies of cotton around the world. So as we move into this harvest season, producers are faced with prices that are just a little bit weaker than they were a year ago,” Anderson explained.
The good news is that the world price has been relatively stable, so there hasn’t been a lot of downward pressure on the U.S. cotton price, he said.