We’ve heard the phrase so many times that it hardly bears repeating. It’s one of the all-time familiar statements we heard from our parents and grandparents while we were growing up. You’ve heard it forever, and it goes like this: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
OK, we’ve said it again.
As crazy as it sounds, it’s too bad somebody couldn’t have waved a magic wand or chased the storm clouds away and improved the weather in several parts of the Cotton Belt in 2009.
But we’re not here to recap ancient history. Most farmers will tell you that there’s always a weather problem somewhere every year. And that is so true. Having said that, we also know that many veteran farmers who have been planting cotton for 40 or 50 years claim they haven’t seen anything in recent memory to compare with what they saw this year.
As you’ll note in our cover story on pages 20 and 21, the only region of the Belt that escaped some serious weather problems was in the West. Even with smaller acreage in Arizona and California, the crop progressed extremely well there. But, for our friends in Texas, the Mid-South and Southeast, it bordered on the unbelievable.
In Texas, the rains were spotty at best in the High Plains and practically non-existent in the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend. That translated into practically no cotton crop in the southern part of the state and a fair crop in the High Plains. The bizarre weather pattern occurred in the Mid-South and Southeast where it rained for most of September and October.
While the yields and grades were reduced in the Mid-South, the damage wasn’t quite as severe in the Southeast. Having walked in several cotton fields in the lower and upper Mississippi Delta last month, I can vouch for what producers are dealing with in that state. In all, 79 counties in Mississippi have been designated as primary natural disaster areas.
Is there any good news in this situation? Much more than I thought possible. First, there was actually some cotton acreage that survived, and a crop was salvaged. That alone proves how resilient cotton is even during non-stop rains. Second, as you’ll see in Senior Writer Carroll Smith’s story on pages 12 and 13, ag organizations are being proactive in seeking disaster relief from Washington. In other words, help is on the way, and we should be thankful for these efforts.
Yes, it could have been a better year for cotton, but it could have been worse. As we have said for many years, our industry is at its best when it deals head-on with problems. This was such a year.
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