Between Hurricane Michael damaging and destroying cotton crops across the Southeast, Tropical Storm Sergio preparing to move over the Texas Panhandle and Rolling Plains and a cold front swooping in over the coming weekend, Mother Nature again is causing headaches and heartaches for growers across the Cotton Belt.
From early-season drought to now late-season hail and rainfall, most Texas High Plains growers have experienced less-than-ideal weather conditions at some point throughout the year. As of press time, forecasts for this weekend going into next week include the potential for snow and a hard freeze across the northern portions of the PCG service area and temperatures dancing around the freezing mark as far south as Lubbock. The average first freeze date for Lubbock is October 31.
Some growers north of Amarillo took to social media, requesting assistance with getting enough aerial applicators to the area to apply boll opener in advance of the forecasted freeze. Although some cotton already has been harvested in that area, many fields could have used a little more time, and rainfall over the past week has left fields too wet to run ground sprayers.
The past week across the PCG service area has mostly been cool, cloudy and stormy with rainfall amounts of up to six inches in some places. PCG received reports of hail pummeling crops in northern Lynn, southern Lubbock and Terry counties, and other areas could have been impacted by hail as well. Harvest currently is stalled for most growers until it dries up enough to get equipment back into the fields, and additional rainfall certainly would cause further delays.
Hurricane Michael roared into the Florida panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm and quickly spun up through parts of Alabama and Georgia, leaving soaked and battered fields of open cotton in its wake. USDA reports indicate that only about 12 percent of Georgia cotton had been harvested as of early this week. This storm came on the heels of Hurricane Florence, which caused significant loss in the Carolinas.