Valley cotton farmers concerned over low water levels
It's a new season for cotton farmers in the Rio Grande Valley, but it’s already not looking good.
Over the last few months, several cities across the Valley ended water restrictions that were enacted due to low water levels throughout the area in 2022.
But farmers still have restrictions in place, and they’re seeing little irrigation water available.
They’re now hoping the sky will give them a decent crop.
"No water available almost to water the cotton, and as you can, see it's fairly dry right now,” Webb Wallace, executive director of the Cotton and Grain Producers of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, said. "A lot of irrigation districts are very, very low on water.”
Wallace said the cotton season is in stark contrast to the stellar growing season last year. While 2022 was a dry year, several rains offset the need for irrigation and the harvest sold at a high price of $1.25 a pound.
This year, they may not be so lucky.
Texas A&M Extension Agent and Pest Management Specialist Danielle Sekula says cotton farmers are likely considering planting something else this year.
“The acreage is going to be very low this year,” Sekula said. “We’re not going to get up to 180,000 acres like we did last year. We'll be lucky if we get to 120,000 acres."
Water levels at Falcon Lake are at 13% capacity, or 260 feet — seven feet above the 20-year low last summer.
Some irrigation districts may offer one watering a year.
For the cotton crop, there's little time left to wait.
With a hot February and more hot days ahead, farmers can only expect more rationing when it comes to irrigation water.
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