Texas LRGV Cotton: Heavy Crop Damage from Hanna

    Cotton lint blown to the ground by Hurricane Michael. Photo: Andrew Sawyer, University of Georgia

    Hurricane Hanna hit the LRGV without warning and came with very heavy rainfall (10- 18 inches) and very high winds (60 mph and higher in some areas). Even though this hurricane was a category 1 it still caused just as great of damage as compared to Hurricane Dolly back in 2008.

    The effects of Hanna are very widespread and have affected all 3 counties (Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy) with heavy flooding, structural property damage, and significant crop damage. Prior to the hurricane many growers had just finished harvesting all corn and grain sorghum.

    Main crops affected by hurricane Hanna in the LRGV have been cotton, sesame, sugarcane, and citrus.

    Last week I had reported in the Pest Cast that harvesting in the LRGV had just ramped up and it seems that only about 2-3% of our dryland cotton crop was harvested prior to hurricane Hanna. Majority of the 2020 cotton crop was at 100% growth and defoliants had already been applied so the effects of Hanna to the cotton crop were very destructive.

    The massive amount of rain received has left many cotton fields flooded and in standing water, thus causing plants to begin to rot. Where water has receded in some fields the effects from the rain splashing soil onto to cotton that is strung out makes it less marketable to unmarketable.

    Where I saw fields last week with completely open fluffed cotton in Lyford, Raymondville, Sebastian, and other areas there is no more as all the cotton was forced down to the ground by the heavy down pour of rain. I saw many cotton fields twisted by the high winds. There is also the chance of having some cotton seed sprout due to all the moisture thus reducing lint value as well.

    There are some later planted fields with green bolls still in tack along the river that I saw from Progresso to Los Indios also in some areas of Weslaco, La Feria that seem to have received less rain than other areas and will likely be harvested but only time will tell because many bolls in the lower portion of the plant were beginning to crack and might be rotting from the inside.

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    It is really a wait and see for the later planted cotton if the fields can dry up and we do not receive any more potential heavy rainfall or flooding. Even though we might have some later planted fields that might be harvestable, after surveying yesterday it seems that 100% of the cotton yield in the LRGV cotton crop was affected and damaged in some capacity anywhere from 10% yield loss to 100% yield loss is to be expected in all cotton fields across the valley.

    Sesame was also another crop that had many fields ready for harvest and was affected greatly from the hurricane. I saw many sesame fields that had sesame lying on the ground due to the high winds. Other fields were under water and might begin to rot.

    Some of the mature sesame were water has receded might be able to be harvested if fields dry up soon. We hope that some of the later planted sesame will be less affected as some areas did receive less rain such as in the McCook area.

    Citrus saw a significant loss of fruit that dropped from the trees due to the high winds and there was some sugarcane that experienced significant lodging due to high winds.

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