April showers bring October cotton – hopefully, area farmers say



A little rain last weekend was nice, but a lot more would be even nicer.

With crop planting time approaching but drought lingering, it’s safe to say South Plains soil moisture is not where growers would like it to be.

Whether it can get that way is still too early to say, but growers can certainly hope.

“A good 48 hours of slow, easy rainfall could change everything,” said Matt Farmer, who yields multiple crops near Lamesa. “We’ve been dry for so long, it’s going to take a major rain event.”

Showers varied last weekend across the South Plains, and Farmer was among the area’s less fortunate growers.

His operation and other locales such as Plains, Seminole, Post and Snyder failed to receive a single drop.

In nearby Terry County, Cliff Bingham said his cotton and peanut crops west of Meadow “just got a sprinkle.” Some of the benefits from those raindrops could be offset by their accompanying heavy wind gusts, he observed.

“We got quite a bit of wind off the clouds, so in a sense it kind of hurt a little bit,” he said.

Others saw anywhere from a few hundredths to four-tenths of an inch.

Some areas southeast of Plainvew garnered nearly half an inch, Gary Cross said.

Cross, Hale County’s agriculture agent, said some farmers won’t need to wait to see the rain’s perks — planting time for corn begins within the week. Hotter weather will help, too, the agent added.

“It may help those folks with a little topsoil to start out with, (but) we’ll need higher temperatures,” he said.

April is typically one of the wettest months on the South Plains. While few would complain about rain at any time of year, rarely is it more crucial to the soil content.

“This time of year, every little bit helps,” said Shawn Wade, director of policy analysis and research for Plains Cotton Growers. “We’re hoping this is the start of more rainfall between now and planting. We’re thankful for what we got, and we’re looking forward to seeing some more.”

Most South Plains cotton is planted in May. Producers have been known to delay those dates if there’s a chance more precipitation could head their way first.

“If things don’t change, we’ll definitely push the deadline,” Farmer said. “We’re still plenty dry.”

Then again, cotton seeds will have to get in the ground at some point. Farmer pointed out crop insurance policies typically list deadlines by which their recipients must abide.

“We’ll eventually have to plant anyway, no matter if it rains or not,” he said.


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