AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — This week’s winter weather brought some much-needed moisture, but it could also negatively affect local farmers’ harvests and crop yields.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Program Specialist Kevin Heflin said the harvest should be well underway.
“I would say everybody in the High Plains right now is, was really geared up and ready to harvest cotton and so this is going to put everybody behind probably by at least a week,” Heflin said.
Chris Bass, a cotton farmer from Muleshoe, said he was lucky. His cotton is mostly intact and he will get back to harvesting on Monday. Unfortunately, that is not the case for all producers.
“I was actually around Lubbock this morning and it, it pulled a lot of cotton out around that area,” said Bass. “We had snow instead of ice but the people that had ice, I would say there’s 20-25% of that on the ground.”
Heflin said cotton bolls opened from the freeze could be strung out, on the ground, and lost, making it harder to harvest and reducing crop yield.
“There are crops on the ground and you can’t pick it up once it’s on the ground,” said Bass, “And which we grade cotton, and if we keep getting moisture, it’ll deteriorate the cotton, and so your grades will start getting bad, getting worse.”
Heflin said while some producers might struggle, the moisture is good for farmers planting winter crops like sorghum and wheat.
“This moisture really will help them and helps it get everything back into balance,” Heflin said. “So this snow is equivalent to a couple of good rains probably, so this is really helpful in that in that sense and to the cotton farmers that are trying to get their cotton out. Now when they do get their cotton out, a lot of them will go back and plant wheat or plant wheat as a cover crop behind this. So it’s not necessarily all bad for them.”
Bass said even with the recent snowfall, there is no profile in the soil.
“We planted about 1,500 acres of dryland wheat and it’s been sitting there for six weeks, six to eight weeks. My concern is, I’m sure this is going to be enough moisture to sprout the seed. We’re just gonna need some more help,” Bass added.
While it was a wet snow, Chief Meteorologist John Harris said the High Plains are still behind on precipitation totals for the year.
“It’s hard to raise a crop without moisture and it hurt some crops and it benefits others but maybe we’ll get a wet winter, I hope for everybody,” said Bass.
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