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Coastal Bend drought conditions result in large decrease in cotton production

One expert believes our state's cotton crop could see a 65% loss this year because of the drought. In the Coastal Bend, it may only turn out to be slightly better.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The U.S. cotton crop this year looks to be down by 28 percent from last year. Here in South Texas, one expert says we could end up seeing up to a 65 percent drop in production. 

Along FM 70 near Bishop, is where trucks are moving in an out of the True Co-op gin all day. That means the machines in the facility are also processing all of that cotton from the field before another rain hits. 

But it’s this year's drought that’s already hit farmers hard. 

"They planted the crop. Some areas it came up. Some areas it never even came up. The seed never even did sprout, that’s how dry we were,” said True Co-op Gin Manager Michael Thompson.

This gin became a co-op in the early 1940s. Farmers in the area have certainly seen their share of droughts over the years, and overall, the crop was a bust. Officials at the gin said that last year they saw 55,000 bales of cotton come through. This year they’re hoping for maybe 20,000.

Wayne Miller farms around 7,000 acres of cotton in the area and he said he was one of the lucky ones in this agricultural disaster.

"This is a sweet spot for us this year. Chapman Ranch, this little area, probably in a five-mile radius from where we’re standing or thereabouts, it’s all pretty sweet almost two bales to an acre, so we are all happy with that," Miller said.

Miller told 3NEWS that the further west you go that a lot of the cotton crop was simply zeroed out due to a lack of moisture.  

William Procasky, a finance professor with Texas A&M Kingsville, explained what this means for the rest of the state.

”We are having in Texas a historically low plant harvested to planted acreage yield and the lowest output of cotton forecasted since 1986," said Procasky.

It's unclear if the severe drought we've seen this summer is the new normal or not, but Miller knows that if we don’t get a lot more rain between now and next year, then 2023 is sure to be much worse than this year. 

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