Torrential rain from Hurricane Harvey is threatening one of Texas’s key agricultural products which may affect Georgia.
The Lone Star state is the number one cotton producer in the nation. Texas farmers had been expecting an unusually productive harvest this season before the storm hit. The state agency that monitors agricultural production in Texas reports that the cotton crop has been significantly damaged by extensive flooding and high-speed winds.
“I know there is a lot of talk about the disaster but we haven’t truly seen its numbers yet to know exactly what we’re working with,” said University of Georgia Agribusiness graduate, Austin Sutton. “A lot of cotton has been lost but we don’t know how much has been lost yet.”
Sutton is a farmer in Irwin county, who owns roughly 700 acres of row crop and 100 head of cows.
“There will be several guys that won’t be able to come back from this. They won’t be able to continue farming.”
Texas state officials say it will be impossible to salvage the crop that remained in the field as the hurricane blew through.
“We’re so late into the harvest year,” said Sutton. “There aren’t many factors that a grower can control at this point in the game. Once you get it planted, you’re kind of at the mercy of the crop.”
Though the bulk of reports at this time claim crop damage is severe, UGA’s cotton extension economist Don Shurley remains optimistic.
“There will be losses, there’s no doubt, but some of the area that was hit was already harvested back in August,” said Shurley. “There were no field losses from that harvest. That said, rain could be beneficial.”
According to Shurley, crops in the mid-south and south-east have been relatively dry recently, meaning the rainfall from this storm could likely have a positive impact.
“Texas losses are unknown. Rain from the remnants of Harvey could be detrimental or beneficial at this point. We just don’t know yet,” he added.
In a September newsletter for cottongrowers.com, Shurley states that, “Texas crop is currently estimated at 8.83 million bales. Losses are thought to be 400,000 to 800,000 bales.”
Although only a 5-6% loss of cotton, Shurley says this number could climb higher.