November 1, 2011
In August, agronomists showed that the historic drought in Texas had caused a stunning $5.3 billion in losses in the agricultural sector. Two months later, even with some rain finally coming to the state, Texas farmers are being crippled by a drought that could stretch beyond next summer.
Some of the farthest-reaching effects may be on world cotton markets. Texas produces about 50 percent of U.S. cotton, and the United States in turn grows between 18 and 25 percent of the world’s cotton, according to Darren Hudson, director of the Cotton Economics Research Institute at Texas Tech University. This year, however, yields even from irrigated crops have fallen about 60 percent on the high plains where the bulk of Texas’s cotton crop grows, Mr. Hudson said. Farmers have given up on their “dry-land,” or unirrigated, cotton crops.