Heavy rain in West Texas leaving cotton farmers anxious, uncerta - FOX34 Lubbock

Heavy rain in West Texas leaving cotton farmers anxious, uncertain for harvest

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Another week of rain means another week of anxious cotton farmers in the Lubbock area. 

According to the National Cotton Council, West Texas produces nearly two-thirds of the state's cotton.

Farmer Alan West said it is difficult to tell what kind of yield is available, given the heavy amount of rain recently. 

"We don't want to jump into panic mode yet. It's hard to farm if you're not somewhat optimistic, but this is certainly testing our patience, testing our anxiety and frustration," West said.

Shawn Wade, with Plains Cotton Growers, said any hope of saving cotton quality hinges on West Texas getting some sunshine soon. 

"We're probably looking at some impacts to the quality of the crop, mainly from a color standpoint in that the continued rain and wet conditions isn't allowing that cotton to dry out. The sun is not there to help bleach out the cotton to a nice white color," Wade said. 

Wade said the winter harvest period is typically the driest time of the year, which is why this rainfall is confusing farmers in the area. 

"I think it's just going to be one of those years where we're just going to have to work really hard and be ready to move into the field as soon as that weather breaks," Wade said.

West added the weather timing this year is backwards.

"It's completely, completely done a 180. We've been through a long sort of season of drought that we were hoping to get some relief from, so it's just completely turned opposite and now it's so wet we can't even do anything," West said. 

Eddie McBride, president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, said cotton production plays a significant role in the city's economy, and it could have a domino effect if the weather does not clear up. 

"It's a multi-billion dollar impact in West Texas. And obviously it's not just for the farmers themselves, it's also for the folks who they sell things to, who they buy things from, so the whole economic process by which this crop is related to West Texas is huge," McBride said.

At this rate, West said paying those people will be difficult.

"If we can't finish our crop and get the production, then all those other people that we buy inputs from and spend money to make this crop, it's a huge problem. Because we're going to have a hard time getting those people paid," West said. 

He said he believes the weather is just one challenge farmers are facing right now. 

"We're having issues with the trade tariffs, and we're also concerned about finishing the Farm Bill, getting things done in Congress. That's all stopped and so it's just sorted of added insult to injury," West said. 

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