COTTON BLOWN AWAY
On cotton farms, more than 300,000 bales have likely been lost, between cotton yet to be harvested and bales sitting on fields awaiting ginning, according to John Robinson, an agricultural economist at Texas A&M University.
The loss, though a small part of the total U.S. cotton crop of about 20 million bales a year, was devastating for individual farmers.
“The cotton that was where the hurricane hit was affected by the winds, it was blown right off the plant. Some of those fields are obliterated,” Robinson said.
“Some of the cotton will still be on the plant but strung out like someone papered your field with toilet paper,” he said.
South Texas and Coastal Bend cotton farmers were expecting a record crop this year. Thirteen of the counties in the disaster area are major cotton producers.
“The South Texas Cotton and Grain Association has preliminary crop losses projected at $150 million. That’s just devastating to all of farmers down there,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said in a statement.
Monday’s Intercontinental Commodity Exchange benchmark cotton price spiked 2.5 percent as a portion of the unharvested crop in Texas was destroyed or damaged by rain and high winds, traders said.
“The cooperative’s growers still have a lot of cotton in the field, maybe like 50 percent still out there. A lot of that will be lost because of the wind and rain,” said Jimmy Roppolo, general manager of United Agricultural Cooperative Inc in El Campo, Texas.
“It was the best cotton crop we ever raised. We really needed it this year to make up for other years,” Roppolo said.
Reporting by Theopolis Waters and Karl Plume in Chicago, Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Will Dunham