Meanwhile, Texas cotton growers faced unprecedented impacts from drought in 2011, said John Robinson, AgriLife Extension cotton economist.

Robinson said in August USDA projected “a relatively low average cotton yield of 636 pounds per harvested acre, in addition to a historically high abandonment of 52 percent.”

“Compared to five-year average yields and abandonment, 2011 represents a huge loss in potential production,” Robinson said.

“Applied to USDA’s measure of 7.1 million planted cotton acres in Texas, and valued at their projected price of 95 cents per pound, this loss adds up to $1.8 billion.

“That $1.8 billion is also the 10-year average total value of cotton lint and cottonseed production in Texas. So, Texas cotton growers lost as much market income in 2011 as they would normally make for an entire cotton crop.”

“Perhaps the most telling thing about the 2011 drought was that even irrigated farmers were not spared,” Miller said. “While most Texas irrigation systems work well in normal or even below normal rainfall, many irrigators found that water supplies were not able to provide all the water requirements of the crop in the absence of any rain and excessive heat. 

“By mid-July, farmers began to try to stop (economic) losses, dedicating all of their water supplies to a reduced amount of acres as water demand from the crops was higher than their ability to supply it.”

The following is a list of economic drought losses from 1998 through 2011 compiled by AgriLife Extension economists:

  • 2011­ $5.2 billion;
  • 2009 ­ $3.6 billion;
  • 2008 ­ $1.4 billion;
  • 2006 ­ $4.1 billion;
  • 2002 ­ $316 million;
  • 2000 ­ $1.1 billion;
  • 1999 ­ $223 million;
  • 1998 ­ $2.4 billion.