Heavy Rain for Southern Plains Cotton

Sergio Surges Toward Southern Plains

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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A large swath of the Southern Plains has rainfall in excess of 3 inches forecast over the next week, mainly due to remnants of Tropical Storm Sergio. Inset: Texas cotton is estimated at 70% boll-opening, vulnerable to rain damage. (DTN graphic)

OMAHA (DTN) -- A second tropical-origin weather system is heading for the U.S. mainland over the weekend, with the potential for moderate to heavy rain in the southern U.S. That could spell trouble for Southern Plains crops, especially cotton.

This time, the system is from the Pacific. Tropical Storm Sergio, located in the Gulf of California at midday Friday, is predicted to track north and east out of northwestern Mexico into the High Plains of west Texas during the Saturday, Oct 13, though Sunday, Oct. 14, time frame.

Sergio is not as strong as Hurricane Michael, which hit the southeastern U.S. Wednesday and Thursday. But it still has the potential to damage this year's cotton crop.

The primary harm from Sergio is the potential for ill-timed moderate to heavy rain just as cotton is moving into harvest-ready phases. As of Sunday, Oct. 7, 70% of the Texas cotton crop was reported to be in the boll-opening phase -- the final step before harvest. Rain at this time can turn the fiber into wet lint, dragging quality and price downward.

"Absolutely, Texas does not need any further precipitation, as portions have already been inundated from an earlier system," said DTN Contributing Cotton Analyst Keith Brown.

The Sergio-related rainfall could be the follow-up to extensive weather damage already inflicted on U.S. cotton country. Brown noted on Friday, Oct. 12, that Hurricane Michael tore through the southeastern U.S. with devastating impact.

"... The initial toll of Michael's devastation is just being realized," Brown related to DTN subscribers. "In the extreme southern locations of the Alabama/Georgia areas of production, the loss was a 100% wipe-out. Those producers took the full brunt of Michael's eye-wall. Farther north and east, losses up to 80% are being reported. Some analysts are suggesting an ultimate loss on the order of 1 million bales will be seen."

The Southern Plains forecast turns drier after Sergio's sojourn, but harsh weather is not over. A cold snap, with frost-level temperatures, is forecast for west Texas in the period ending Wednesday, Oct. 17. Chilly temperatures hinder drying, and would thus prolong the quality damage from rain on the Southern Plains crop.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at Bryce.anderson@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Bryce Anderson

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