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Oklahoma Cotton Farmers Lose Fields To Drought, Experts Still Expect Good Harvest

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Oklahoma farmers are close to stripping cotton, but some are losing crops from dry weather in August.

Seth Byrd, an Oklahoma State University Extension cotton specialist, said this year’s crop had a lot of potential. With unexpected dry weather in August, he’s slightly adjusting expectations.

“We kind of realized in the middle of August that, you know, if we don't get a rain pretty quick, we're going to start definitely losing some of that yield potential,” Byrd said. “And that happened, we were pretty hot and basically dry through … almost the whole month.”

Oklahoma is expected to harvest 450,000 acres of cotton, according to an U.S. Department of Agriculture crop production report released on Sept. 11. This is about 100,000 less than originally predicted in August.

Harvey Schroeder, executive director of the Oklahoma Cotton Council, says despite the losses from the drought, he expects about 900,000 bales of cotton this harvest season. This is about 36% larger than the 2019 season, which produced 659,000 bales.

Byrd said the harvest may come earlier this year because the mix of hot and cold weather is accelerating the maturity of the plant.

“So right now, we've got really good weather for finishing the crop out,” Byrd said. “Hopefully it holds out to the rest of September.”

Seth Bodine was KOSU's agriculture and rural issues reporter from June 2020 to February 2022.
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