WICHITA FALLS, TX (RNN Texoma) - It has been a tough year for cotton farmers, and now they are bracing for a winter storm that could make things worse.
Cotton farmers say the spring was damp, their crops went through a drought in the summer, in the early fall there was a lot of humidity, and now they said this winter weather could hurt their crops so badly that they will not even be worth harvesting.
That is why cotton farmers like Matt Mahler have been rushing to harvest all the cotton they can before the wintery weather hits.
But they only have a small window during the day to do so, because in the morning the crops are still too damp, so they have to wait until they dry out.
“Yesterday we started right at lunch just to get as much done as we could and worked a pretty late night and really have been all week,” Mahler said.
Many cotton bolls have lost their shape. The ones that have completely fallen on the ground are not harvestable because it cannot be picked up.
Mahler says most farmers are lucky to even harvest 25% of their crops in an average year, and this year they are expecting much less.
County Extension agent David Graf says that is because this year was difficult from the start. “We didn't get near enough of our acres planted near the spring time,” Graf said.
The effects on the amount of cotton farmers yield after this winter storm hits all depends on how severe it is.
Graf said, “Maybe if we get a slight sleet and it's not really heavy snow, then maybe a 5 or 10% decrease in yield. But if we just get a really heavy snow or heavy ice storm, then we could be talking 40 to 50% or some cases even greater than that.”
With all of the weather challenges cotton farmers have already faced this year, a heavy winter storm might be the last straw for their crops, and whatever they do have left will not be of value.