Cotton crops still at risk with high heat

Cotton crops still at risk with high heat

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - This past cotton-planting season wasn’t too kind to Matt Mahler.

The unusually wet spring brought unusable soil conditions and grasshoppers that destroyed his cotton plants and forced him to replant almost half of his fields.

Now he’s dealing with the high heat.

“It was like someone switched a light switch and it went from almost too wet to a few days of good conditions and now it’s been pretty hot and dry,” said Mahler.

If the hot conditions continue, as well as the high wind, his young plants will struggle to make it to harvesting in October.

“We’re kind of in a waiting period right now to see if we can get a little bit more rain just to jump-start to withstand the rest of the summer months,” said Mahler.

David Graf, Wichita County’s Texas A&M Ag Expansion agent, said in a normal season these kinds of temperatures wouldn’t be a problem for cotton production.

“It can take some heat as long as it’s got that root system down in the moisture,” said Graf.

The dry topsoil forces the cotton’s long tap root to grow deeper in the ground, where Graf says the heavy rain earlier in the year has produced a good amount of sub-soil moisture.

With some crops still young, their roots haven’t completely grounded, and farmers like Mahler are concerned they won’t get the chance to with such high temperatures.

Graf still remains hopeful for a successful crop yield this season.

“I think we’re going to be OK so long as those young plants, they’re able to reach that subsoil moisture,” said Graf.

Mahler’s hopefulness, on the other hand, remains tentative.

“When it’s a hundred plus degrees and the wind blows, it’s hard to have hope for these small plants. I’ve got a lot of cotton that is up and is six inches tall. It’s got a deep root, it’s well into the sub-soil. I think it’s going to be OK," said Mahler. “If we can catch a few more rains here in the next week or so going into the first of August, I think we’ll be OK. But we’re definitely going to need one pretty soon if the weather stays the same.”

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