Local cotton low in quantity, high in quality

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Producers continue to watch their livelihoods decline as cotton production figures for the Texas High Plains continue to roll in.

“Prices have been falling, yields have been off drastically due to the drought we went through and all of the hot, dry winds sure didn’t help anything,” Weldon Melton, a Hale County cotton producer said.

Barry Evans, a Swisher County cotton producer, said the water supply did not go as far as they had hoped.

“There is a direct relationship between the water you have and the cotton you produce,” Evans said. “We just didn’t get the water use efficiency that we normally get.”

Kenny Day from the Lubbock Cotton Classing Office said that although the cotton crop is low, the quality is high.

“Pretty much all of the factors are average or better,” Day said. “The only thing we are seeing a decline in is the staple length, or measure of fibers.”

Melton said the decline in cotton and cotton producing-related jobs will be felt by our local economy.

“Look at your local businesses and the amount of money that is going to be spent or not spent,” Melton said. “Whenever you have employees that can’t work in December, they are not going to be spending money at Walmart. Yes, this will affect Walmart.”

Day said low cotton means low staffing at his facility.

“On a normal year, we usually employ about 280 people,” Day said. “This year we have around 180 to 200 employees and where they would normally work them for 4-5 months, this year they are only working 6-8 weeks.”

Looking ahead to next year, there is only so much a producer can do to prepare.

“I think we will be a little bit more conservative with our water,” Evans said. “But, you know, farmers are eternal optimists, and we don’t stop just because have a bad year.”

More than 4.5 million acres of cotton were planted on the High Plains this season and less than half of that is expected to be harvested.

Source: http://www.myfoxlubbock.com/news/local/story/cotton-harvest-classing/A4eJGZ-290qBCi9aYXogxw.cspx

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