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Cotton 'crops' up and beats expectations

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TWC News: Cotton 'crops' up and beats expectations
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The Central Texas cotton crop is coming in, and bales of harvested cotton dot the fields of farmland all over the region.

Last year's drought devastated Texas cotton and agricultural production, but this year's cotton crop is looking like a good one.

At first glance, the fields look dead, but the huge bales of cotton tell a different story.

“We've had some struggle with regard to the timing of the rain, but otherwise it's been good for us," said Michael Haynes, with Texas AgriLife Extension.

After a terrible 2011, Caldwell County cotton producers are back in business. They’ve produced about 6,700 acres of cotton so far this year, and the harvest is coming in better than expected.

"Weather patterns and rainfall that we were probably going to pull about three quarters of a bale per acre, fortunately were looking more like a quarter, a bale and a quarter per acre," Haynes said.

The drought cost Texans billions of dollars in lost agricultural production, but a good yield this year will help many producers stay afloat.

"In cash receipts, we see about $2 billion a year when it comes to cotton," said Bryan Black with the Texas Department of Agriculture. "We're producing about 75 percent more cotton this year than we saw last year. So,[this is] good news for Texas."

Last year, some small cotton farmers were forced out of business while others changed their crops.

“We sustained such deep damage from last year's drought, it's going to take a long time for all that to recover," Haynes said.

As the weather improves, so does the outlook for Texas farmers, but only if the drought stays away.

Even though world cotton prices are down about 30 percent, experts say this year's crop will still be profitable. Overall, Texas’ cotton production is up about 75 percent over 2011.

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