A few minutes of torrential rain and battering hail turned thousands of acres of West Texas cotton into shredded bits of soggy white fluff last Thursday (Oct. 21) as a devastating storm moved from northern Yoakum County through parts of Terry, Hockley, Lubbock, Lynn and Crosby Counties.

Estimates of economic losses are still being evaluated, according to association and Texas AgriLife Extension sources, but some counties may suffer as much as 50 percent loss. With cotton currently selling for more than $1 per pound and farmers anticipating a good, if not a bumper crop, financial losses will be significant.

“It’s bad,” says Terry County Extension agent Chris Bishop. He says the area from Gomez to Tokio to Wellman “was hit extremely hard. Losses in that area could range from 50 percent to 100 percent in some fields. East of Brownfield, we’ve not seen as much damage.”

Bishop says more accurate estimates may be possible by mid-week but three days after the storm he was figuring overall county loss at 50 percent of a 250,000-acre crop.

“It was not a bumper crop, but it was a good one,” Bishop says,” and would have been the third largest crop on record. Hail wiped out a lot of it.”

He says the storm covered a swath about 25 miles wide from Wellman to Ropesville.

He says significant peanut acreage was also heavily damaged. “A lot of peanuts had been dug,” he says. “Those acres were hurt badly.”

Steve Verett, executive vice-president of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., says damage estimates are hard to figure. “In Terry County, planted acreage typically runs about 250,000 and with low abandonment this year, farmers likely had close to that still in the field,” he says.

“Half of the Terry county crop might not be a total loss, but for the farmers who were hard hit the effect will be severe. Any loss estimates now would be just a guess.”