In August the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that this year’s cotton harvest was to be a high yielding one. Little did they know that a huge storm was about to make its way to the US, Hurricane Harvey.
The USDA made estimates of a 20.5 million bale count for this year’s harvest, as reported by modernfarmer.com. If it were to have happened, this would have meant a 20% increase in yields on last year’s harvest, up 3.4 million bales.
It has been reported in the news today that the death toll due to the tropical storm is now at 13, up from 9 yesterday. The hurricane has damaged millions of dollars worth of homes, businesses and farms alike, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in need of emergency help. Yesterday it was estimated that over 60,000 people had been rehomed, while just over 400,000 were still in need of emergency care.
Recent estimates suggest that up to 300,000 worth of bales could have been lost due to the storm, with many farmers now left heavily out of pocket. One of Texas’ largest cotton producing regions, Corpus Christi, has been especially hit hard. The cotton crop was affected in a number of ways. Upon the storms approach, farmers in the area rushed to get their crops harvested in time. Normally it would have been left to mature for another few weeks. Any cotton left unharvested was destroyed due to the torrential downpours of rain.
That is not the only problem though, as even harvested bales of cotton are at risk. These bales are usually left on pastures until ready for processing. Even those bales stored in sheds and outbuildings are at risk, as most properties are not built to survive such heavy downpours. Any salvageable cotton bales will be subsequently sold at a lower cost, meaning further losses.
The complete extent of the damage due to the hurricane is unclear as of yet, as efforts continue to help all that remain stranded. One thing is certain, the predictions made by the USDA look well and truly gone.