Cotton farmers struggling from February freeze brace for heavy rain

Local News

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The cotton crops in the Rio Grande Valley took a devastating blow during the February freeze.

Now, with the high chance for heavy rain this weekend, agricultural experts worry about the impact.

“Those that already have open bowls and their cotton is standing out there, they’re trying like crazy right now just to get it harvested before the rain comes,” said Danielle Sekula, Texas A&M AgriLife Extention, Integrated Pest Management Agent.

Sekula explained why the heavy rain could be detrimental to their crops and why farmers are gearing up for any rain chances.

“Heavy rain causes the cotton quality to go down and then some of the lint, the white cotton balls will string out from where it’s at or fall onto the ground so you lose yield, you lose money,” she said.

Other agricultural experts such as Dr. Alex Racelis, Co-Director for UTRGV Center for Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Advancement share that farmers lost a lot of their cotton crops because of the winter freeze causing them to replant soon after.

“The later you plant, the later you tend to harvest so that just pushes the harvest season into the wet season which then exposes farmers to these kinds of challenges,” said Dr. Racelis.

Those challenges not only include a push back in harvest but also includes the potential for bacterial growth on their cotton crops or the cotton boll weevil, a beetle that feeds and infests cotton buds.

“We get a lot of moisture that causes for a lot of growth, regrowth and that’s when we start to get the cotton stocks, they start to become hostable they’ll put on pinhead squares, fruit, basically food for the cotton boll weevil,” said Sekula.  

Agricultural experts assure that farmers are prepared for wet Septembers. They add a moderate rain of 1 inch or less is usually okay for their crops, but anything exceeding that could push them back further.

If this weekend, the heavy rains cause a lot of damage, Dr. Racelis said some farmers do have crop insurance to get them through these unexpected events. 

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