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Drought decimates Texas’ top cotton crop

Farmers harvest cotton from a 140-acre field in Ellis County, near Waxahatchie, Texas, on September 19, 2022.

There is almost nothing left to pick in the devastated cotton fields of Sutton Page. The Texas farmer managed to save perhaps a fifth of his crop, but the rest was lost to the severe drought that has taken a toll on the region.

This year’s crop is “not good,” he says, but in reality, the North Texas drought has turned out to be a disaster, with most of Page’s neighbors not even bothering to harvest their crops, leaving “bare, barren fields.” ‘ stay behind. ”

Texas produces nearly half of America’s cotton, and the United States is the world’s third largest supplier after India and China.

This year, national production will hit its lowest level since 2015, down 21 percent year-on-year, and Texas will see a 58 percent drop, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

In the state’s northwest, where cotton is the lifeblood of the local economy and water is scarce, the 2022 harvest could be “one of the worst in 30 years,” said Darren Hudson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas Tech University. worry.

With the cascading impact on the global textile industry, in an economy already recovering from the pandemic, Hudson estimated the likely economic impact for the region at $2 billion.

Landon Orman, 30, works on 2,000 acres of cotton near Abilene, three hours west of Dallas. His unirrigated cotton hasn’t even germinated while his partially watered crop grew, but the yield will be cut by half.

In total, he predicts a production decline of 85 percent compared to a normal year. Like many others, he has crop insurance, so “financially we’re not doing too badly. But as a farmer, it’s pretty bad that sometimes we can’t grow things.”

Texas produces nearly half of U.S. cotton and the United States is the world's third largest supplier after India and Ch

Texas produces nearly half of America’s cotton, and the United States is the world’s third largest supplier after India and China. This year, national production will hit its lowest level since 2015, a 21 percent year-over-year decline, and Texas will experience a 58 percent drop.

depressing

In Lubbock, the region’s cotton hub, rainfall over the past 12 months has been about half the normal volume, and the little that fell came too late to save the crop.

“From January, all the way to the month of May, no, no literally no rain,” said Sutton Page, 48. And from May “we got 100-degree days and 30-mph winds and it just dried everything out.”

He had to plow 80 percent of his dying crop back into the ground to keep the land from drying out. Of the few small plants that actually grew, it may not even be economical to harvest them.

“It’s a bit depressing to a certain extent because you work hard all year and get the farms ready and you fertilize and your crops don’t come up,” he said.

Frequency

Cotton farmers in the Texas plains know there will always be bad years, but the drought of 2022 could be the worst. And some fear there’s more to come.

Fourth-generation farmer Steve Patman holds cotton as his staff harvests the crop from a 140-acre field in Ellis County, near

Fourth-generation farmer Steve Patman holds cotton as his staff harvests the crop from a 140-acre field in Ellis County, near Waxahatchie, Texas, on September 19, 2022.

The region “has worse conditions than at this time last year,” and these are calming down over time, notes Curtis Riganti, a climatologist who specializes in drought.

“In the last ten years, we’ve seen maybe five or six of those years where we’ve seen droughts. Maybe one or two of those years we’ve seen a very catastrophic drought,” said Kody Bessent, director of one of the cotton growers’ associations in the United States. region. .

These farmers in Texas, a state where climate skeptics are ubiquitous, would rather see unpredictable weather cycles repeating than the effects of global warming, making extreme weather events more common.

While they wait for answers, everyone does their best to keep the soil moist.


Sesame yield stable in drought


© 2022 AFP

Quote: Drought decimates Texas’s top cotton crop (September 2022) retrieved September 20, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-drought-decimates-texas-key-cotton.html

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