Cotton harvest coming to close

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Juan Cruz, left, and Ulises Vazquez pack a bale of cotton Tuesday at the Parmer County Cotton Grower’s Co-op in Farwell.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Cotton production rose slightly this year as farmers finish up harvesting cotton crops stunted by bad weather.

Craig Rohrbach, general manager of the Parmer County Cotton Growers Association Coop, said he expects to receive between 18,000 to 20,000 bales of cotton this year. Last year’s yield was 15,000 bales. The ginning operation has received 12,000 bales to date from farmers in West Texas and eastern New Mexico.

“We’d like 60,000 (bales),” he said referring to the cotton yield two years ago.

Harvesting will end by next week, he said. Cotton is priced at 48 cents a pound, he said.

Dry weather and hail storms decimated and stunted the maturation of area cotton this year, according to Parmer County Agriculture Extension agent Monti Vandiver. And a hard freeze in October killed a lot of the late-blooming cotton crops, he said.

“We ran out of time,” he said. “Cotton was late maturing (this year).”

Conditions are the same in the Texas Panhandle, according to Rohrbach.

Another reason for low crop production is less crops planted, according to Vandiver. Farmers attracted by high grain prices farmed more crops such as corn and sorghum this year, he said.

Bailey and Parmer county farmers have reduced the acreage of cotton crops by 66 percent since 2005, he said.

Cotton production is expected to drop by about 30 percent nationally, according to a November forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cotton production was reported at 19.2 million bales last year and this year’s cotton production is expected to reach 13.5 million, according to the forecast.