With rain neither falling nor forecast in Texas, many cotton producers are seeing their hopes of selling $1.20 cotton literally dry up in the dust.

“I don’t think people realize how bad it is,” said Brad Heffington, Littlefield, Texas, producer and president of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., speaking during the Ag Market Network’s June conference call.

Heffington, who farms in the High Plains, said, “No one alive that I know has seen the level of drought we’re seeing in west Texas right now. It breaks records set back in 1895, when they started keeping records.”

Since July 3, 2010, Heffington says, his farm has received 0.6 inch of moisture from two rains. “We got 0.4 inch last October and 0.2 inch in May of this year that was gone by lunch the way the winds were blowing.”

Heffington says there’s very little hope left for the dryland crop, “but I don’t think people realize how serious the situation is on the irrigated crop, especially on the High Plains. We have limited irrigation that is typically supplemental to the 18 inches of rain we usually receive annually. Without any rain in the last year, I don’t want to sound like I’m ringing the bell, but it’s serious, as serious as I’ve ever seen it.”

Producers can’t irrigate fast enough in the dry conditions,” according to Heffington. “Without some significant rain in the next few weeks, even irrigated production is going to be way off.”

Heffington believes that the 1 million bale reduction in USDA’s estimate of U.S. production “won’t come anywhere close to what the final number will be. Looking at the numbers from yesterday’s report, if you take another 2 million bales off the Texas crop, that’s a 15 million bale U.S. crop. That would drop ending stocks to 700,000 bales. I don’t know how that’s going to equate to the world.”

Heavy irrigation is starting to take a toll on water supplies in Texas as well, Heffington said. “We’ve been pumping water for the last two months trying to get this crop going. The longer farmers are running, the bigger the cones of depression are getting, and wells are dropping. Just in my area, we’ve heard of five house wells going dry. When you start losing house water, it’s getting serious.

“We really don’t know what to do. You can’t confer with any of the older generations. The closest thing to it they’ve seen are the crop conditions in 1956. And there’s nothing in the forecast that gives a producer much hope. It’s just not very pretty right now. It usually does rain some out here. But this year, we’re just not getting any.”

Heffington adds that very few drip-irrigated cotton fields are up either, “because of difficulty getting water to the surface to germinate the seed. Those are our highest production fields and there is hardly any of that up. It won’t come up without rain.”