Late in August and throughout September is normally the time that most Brazos Valley cotton farmers are harvesting their crops. Seventeen to twenty two inches of rain over the last seven or eight weeks has nearly ninety per cent of the local cotton crop in a holding pattern that becomes more damaging with every passing day. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.
"What the defoliation process does, is it knocks these green leaves off all the way down that plant, and that allows the cotton picker to come in and pick the crop cleanly, and like I said, we've done this three times now, and you can see here we are, if we're not in here in about another week's time, we're going to have to defoliate it again."
Jay Wilder farms in Burleson County.
"That fiber gets wet, and that seed inside that fiber gets wet, and it's just constantly has been, wet, wet, wet, a now we've had some of those seeds starting to sprout, which ruins the seed quality totally, and that hits you right in the back pocket. Our fiber quality has gone down. We'll have spotted cotton, you know where a leaf or where it's touching the stem, cotton stalk or whatever, anyway there'll be a stain. That hits us in the back pocket."
Wilder estimates yields have been reduced by more than 40%.
"Our yield potential on our irrigated, I think three to three and a half bales. I'd say now we're probably close to two."
"You're filming this today, and you think, well get out there and harvest it, you've got beautiful weather. Well, this ground won't hold a cotton picker, it won't hold up a combine....if we were able to do it and rut it up, that just takes that much more ground preparation for next year."
Although the rains have devastated crops waiting to be harvested, it has helped cattlemen.
"We needed subsoil moisture, and then you say twenty inches of rain in an 8 week period, that's a lot of runoff, but we needed a lot of runoff to fill up those tanks, too."
And that help for ranchers was expensive.
"We're going to pay for it right here."
When Mother Nature engages in excessive behavior, she usually punishes some sector of agriculture. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.