LUBBOCK, Texas - Which is the greater loss?
(A) The total loss of a farm to a storm that beats your crop into the ground with its hail and winds?
(B) A cool day without sunshine?
If it’s your farm, your field, your crop, the answer is obvious.
It would be (A).
If you are a ginner, a banker, some other party to the cotton production industry or even just a citizen of West Texas the answer may not immediately seem quite so obvious - but it should be (B)!
An individual losing a center pivot or drip irrigated farm of, say, 100 acres is facing a loss of possibly up to $100,000 crop value.
However, when Plains Cotton Grower’s 41-county area goes a few days with highs in the mid 80’s, lows in the mid 50s and overcast skies this time of year the potential impact on the entire area is quite phenomenal.
You’ve heard of million dollar rains - Is it possible we are looking at minus million dollar clouds?
It would take an economist crossed with a plant physiologist to calculate the reduced efficiency of a cotton plant in these cooler temperatures and lower solar radiation levels.
When the temperature reaches 92 degrees in sunshine, the cellulose factory we call a cotton plant is working at optimum. That would be normal at this time of year, and every day would see pounds of cotton making on millions of acres across our area.
When the temperature struggles to 85 degrees with overcast skies and slumps to 56 degrees overnight, these cellulose factories temporarily go on strike.
Some fear the quantity of cotton we will produce this year is being limited by these weather conditions. Some fear the premiums we receive for quality cotton may be reduced by this weather.
Either way, this means a substantial reduction in the big bucks potential of a hoped-for record crop.
Some folks actually like the weather we’re having - you could even describe it as “people weather” but we need to get back into a couple months of “cotton weather.”
Roger Haldenby writes for Plains Cotton Growers Inc.