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Cotton harvesting season in full swing across the Big Country

Cotton is a big part of the local economy and the cotton harvesting season has arrived.

Local cotton producers said that it all comes down to the timing of the rainfall when it comes to cotton harvest returns, and this year, the timing was off.

October is usually the start of cotton harvesting season, but record-breaking rain fell throughout the Big Country, which caused many farmers in the area to harvest their cotton later than usual this year.

"Now it’s finally dried up enough that the farmers are in the field and they're harvesting their cotton and we have that rolling into the gins," said Steve Estes, the Jones County Extension Agent.

Jones also talked about how the weather managed to cause some concerns about the quality of the cotton.

"We were afraid that the rain might have caused some serious quality issues. However, the quality issues aren't as bad as we anticipated," Estes said.

As the cotton gets picked and gets sent over to the gin, many farmers reported that the amount of cotton that they have been able to produce for this year is lower.

Areas west of Abilene, near Roby, Rotan and Colorado City, were affected by the drought this past summer, according to the Area Director of the USDA Cotton Classing Office in Abilene, Kenny Day.

"This year, because of the drought and the lack of irrigation, we're doing a little bit less in Texas than we'd like to see," said Day.

Day told KTXS News that in 2017, they had 2.2 million bales of cotton, and this year, he said that he hopes to reach 1.5 million bales of cotton.

As all of the harvested cotton rolls into the USDA Cotton Processing Facility in south Abilene, Day remains hopeful about the quality of the cotton from this year's harvest.

"Overall, I’d say the fiber and the cotton looked pretty good considering all the weather problems we've had," Day said.

Day also said that they are already laying the groundwork in the hopes of having a better cotton harvesting season in 2019, at least if the weather cooperates with farmers.

"It seems like our best years come after a wet winter, so we're kind of on a good footing right now,” said Day.

Harvesting cotton can last all the way up until April and planting for next year’s cotton crop will start in May.

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