Some may have been disappointed about the wet weather and cancelled fireworks shows, but South Plains producers said the unusual rainfall is a mixed gift.
Since it rained steadily throughout the weekend, farmers said there was some flooding on their fields. They may lose some of their cotton crop in lower-lying spots or areas near playa lakes. But where they may lose some money from failed crops, farmers will save money by not irrigating.
Richard Adams, a cotton farmer in Acuff, said his crop is still in the early stages. It is just starting to bloom, so the rain’s timing was just right.
“Cotton uses 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water a day,” he said. “From now to the middle of August, it’s going to use a lot of water.”
His area received 9.5 inches of water in the past few days, which he said is a huge moneysaver and the greatest benefit. Also, with area producers using less water for irrigation, the more water will be available for dry spells in the coming months.
However, Adams said it is too early to determine the effects of the heavy rains and what his next step will be.
Eddie Smith, a cotton and grains producer in Floyd County, said over the weekend, his fields were saturated with more than 6 inches of water.
He said he probably will not have to irrigate again in a week or 10 days, depending on how fast the plants soak up the water and on future weather conditions.
June was unusually warm, he said, but the July 4 showers were even more abnormal for this time of year.
The wet weather was a plus for his grain crops, but it could present problems for his cotton.
Smith said he will most likely lose a small portion of his cotton crop because his fields are near playa lakes, and the heavy rain could delay the cotton’s maturity.
It is too late to replant cotton, he said, but he does not anticipate a significant overall loss of cotton at this point.
The main problems are the unwanted pests, weeds, possible diseases and too much vegetative growth, but, Adams said, all of those concerns can be controlled, unlike the weather.
Once the water dries up, he may have to apply more herbicide to fight off weeds and spray growth regulators to better control the plant growth; however, Adams does not mind the extra work.
“We definitely have to take care of the weeds and birds,” he said. “I would rather have the rain; we can handle the weeds.”
Diseases can develop in cool, wet temperatures, Smith said, but in this case, that seems unlikely because the temperature did not drop too low. The ideal soil temperature for cotton-growing is about 65 degrees and higher.
In the next two weeks, the farmers will monitor the weather and the soil moisture of their fields and watch for pests.
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