Texas Plains Cotton: Hale County – 2018 Top U.S. Producer

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You could say that 2018 was the year of “what might have been” when it comes to Texas High Plains production, as early-season drought and other adverse weather conditions impacted the crop throughout the year. However, even with Mother Nature’s challenges, cotton growers in the PCG service area produced about 3.94 million bales in 2018, which is around the historical average.

This is a decrease from the 5.39 million 480-pound bales produced during the 2017 growing season, and also less than the 4,085,000 million projected by NASS in their February 2019 report for Districts 1-N and 1-S.

Planted acreage in 2018 was up more than 360,000 acres from the previous year, totaling just less than 4.8 million acres. Both the northern and southern portions of the PCG service area saw increases. However, the abandonment figure for 2018 of almost 50% shows that the final production number could have been significantly higher, even though much of it was on dryland acreage.

According to the final county level production estimates released late last week by NASS, the Plains Cotton Growers 41-county service area accounted for about 57% of the 9.27 million bales of upland cotton produced in Texas this past season. Statewide production was down 26% from 2017, and the average yield per acre statewide was also was down just more than 6% from last year at 756 pounds per acre.

On a national basis, Texas growers accounted for about 39% of the 17.56 million upland bales produced in the United States in 2018, easily maintaining their position as the No. 1 cotton producing state in the nation. Georgia was second with 1.955 million bales, and Mississippi was third with just more than 1.46 million bales. In 2018, 6 of the top 7 cotton-producing counties in the nation were within 80 miles of Lubbock, once again reinforcing the area’s claim as the nation’s largest cotton patch.

Top Producing County

Hale County retained their spot as the top-producing county on the High Plains and in the nation in 2018, with 354,600 480-pound bales of cotton and averaging 920 pounds per harvested acre. Lubbock County was second with 284,000 bales, and Floyd County third at 271,700. Overall yield per harvested acre on the High Plains averaged 768 pounds in 2018, down slightly from 795 in 2017.

More on Cotton

Joining Hale, Lubbock and Floyd counties in the top ten cotton-producing counties in the High Plains Region (reported in 480-lb bales) were: Hockley, 258,400; Gaines, 247,800; Lynn, 232,300; Crosby, 195,200; Terry, 185,100; Lamb, 167,800; and Hansford, 153,900. This is the first time that a county from north of Texas Interstate 40 has broken the region’s top ten.

Top Cotton Yielder

As for yield, Hansford County ranked at the top for 2018, averaging 1,237 pounds per harvested acre. Individual counties ranking second and third in yield per harvested acre were Parmer County (1,186 pounds), and Castro County (1,164 pounds). Nine counties in the PCG service area averaged more than 1,000 pounds per acre.

A complete listing of the 2018 upland cotton production totals for Texas and other states is available on the NASS website.

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