“It’s a gamble. It’s just a big gamble, that’s all it is.” Doug Hanson has been in the cotton farming business since 1967. He says picking cotton is hard work under the hot sun, involves long hours and can be a guessing game at times, since much of the season’s success lies in Mother Nature’s hands. The number one weather enemy? Rain.
“This is all irrigated stuff so the weather conditions, as long as it’s dry we have plenty of water to irrigate with,” says Hanson. He says dry conditions are ideal for cotton farming because it lets the cotton flower bloom to its full potential.
So when he heard of the possibility of Tropical Storm Ernesto making its way to the Rio Grande Valley, “It scares you because you could lose this whole crop and you’ve got lots of money tied up in this crop.”
There’s a total of about 400 acres of cotton farming land here near FM 800 and Rangerville Road in Cameron County. Hanson says each acre can bring in at least $450 to $500 each. And although most seasons you just try to break even, Hanson says a total loss of the crop due to heavy rain would be devastating to each worker and their families.
“At certain times, the right time rain is really good, we need rain especially in the winter time to keep the ground wet, to get it moist,” says Hanson.
Although the cotton farming business can sometimes seem like a game of Russian roulette, Hanson says it’s in his blood. He just hopes the heavy rains will hold off for a couple more weeks until the crop is completely picked.