Unprecedented Texas Drought Results in $2 Billion Losses

by Samantha Whidden

Following a record-breaking dry summer, a Texas drought reportedly resulted in more than $2 billion in losses to the cotton crop. 

According to the Texarkana Gazette, temperatures reached more than 100 degrees for 40 days this summer. This, in return, dried up the crops for Lone Star State farmers. The drought may impact next year’s crops as well. The media outlet shared that Texas Tech University predicted the unprecedented weather is going to cause a $2.1 billion hit in the 2022 cotton harvest. 

While speaking to the media outlet, Texas cotton farmer Brian Adamek said he could potentially lose about $750 an acre on his 2,000-acre farm this year due to the drought. “It’s just too dry and too hot,” he explained. The farmer noted that the drought reduced his farm’s yield by 75%. He will be picking about a fourth of what a season may normally bring. However, along with the drought, there is an increase in cotton prices. But it’s not enough to compensate Adamek.  

The Texas cotton farmer also stated that record temperatures in his area began around late April to early May. This meant that while the bottoms of his cotton plants were fine, the tops were shriveled. Along with cotton, the heat may also stunt corn growth. Adamek added that he is turning to insurance to help cover the cotton losses. “We put away for bad years, and we have crop insurance. Crop insurance will cover some of it. While it’s not a total fix, it does get our bills paid and get us there next year.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Economist Says Cotton Abandonment Hits a Record 68% in Texas 

Meanwhile, John Robinson, a cotton economist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, revealed to the Texarkana Gazette that cotton abandonment has hit a record 68% in the state. This in return will cause cotton production to be forecasted as only 3.25 million bales. This is 53% below the state’s previous five-year average. 

Robinson also shared that cotton prices are now averaged 55 to 85 cents a pound over the past decade. As of Today, cotton sales are $1 a pound. The economist further explained that he believed prices surged due to “pent-up demand” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Next year is also set up for a tight situation and I don’t know whether the demand picture will be any different,” he added. 

Along with Robinson, director of Texas Tech’s International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness, Darren Hudson, explained that the damage in the cotton-growing regions includes the impacts of crop insurance as well as 20,000 job losses statewide. Due to the drought, Texas Tech predicts that about half of the state’s total crop is going to be lost. 

Hudson then concluded that along with cotton, the drought’s impact also includes manufacturers and warehouses that deal with the lost products.