“We’ve had a good spring, and it’s past replanting time,” said Sam Simmons of Harlingen, Texas, who was interviewed during a recent tour of Cotton Incorporated’s offices in Cary. “An April hailstorm knocked down some of the stand, but overall the crop is off to a good start.”

Producers in the Rio Grande Valley shoot to have their crop planted in early February to make the crop by September. Last year, late plantings and a fourth of the normal amount of rainfall, hurt yields, leaving growers with the second lowest production on record. The irrigated crop suffered because growers couldn’t get water from Mexico.

Simmons produced a little more than a bale of cotton to the acre.

“This year I’m much more optimistic,” he says. “This is best start we’ve had since 1988.

Mark Willis of Raymondville, Texas, is another producer who’s off to a good start. An April hailstorm took out about 100 acres of cotton on his operation, but the soil moisture levels are good.

On the down side, boll weevils were being trapped in larger numbers earlier in the year than they were last year. Simmons says he sprays 12 times in the irrigated crop.

Despite the problems with rainfall, Willis had a good year last season, producing yields of more than 2 bales per acre under irrigation. He grows 2,500 acres of cotton.

Willis says he doesn’t watch the markets like he used to. “At 65 cents, you don’t have any LDP,” he says. He grows grain sorghum in rotation with cotton.

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com