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    Cotton Crops Suffering under Severe Drought Conditions

    By By Vickie Frantz, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
    July 22, 2011, 2:14:08 AM EDT

    "The Gulf Coast has gotten only 50 percent of the normal rainfall over the past nine months."

    Cotton crops in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia all are in very poor condition due to the lack of rain in the lower third of the U.S.

    "The Gulf Coast has received only 50 percent of the normal rainfall over the past nine months," said AccuWeather expert meteorologist, Dale Mohler.

    Texas cotton farmers have been hit particularly hard. Lubbock, Texas, has only received 1.2 inches of rain since November. The normal rainfall by this time of year is 11.2 inches.

    The surface temperatures in western Texas have been 7 to 8 degrees above normal for about a month and a half. "Higher surface temperatures cause what little moisture there is to evaporate quicker," Mohler said. "There has been three and a half weeks of temperatures over 100 degrees."

    Temperatures near 100 degrees combined with the high surface temperatures make the drought conditions even worse.

    Texas is the leading cotton producer in the U.S. and 57 percent of the crops are in very poor condition.

    Cotton farmers in Oklahoma have seen a crop loss of about 72 percent. "The city of Altus has received about 7 inches of rain since November. Normally they would have 19.5 inches by now," Mohler said.

    The cotton crops in Alabama and Georgia have fared a little better with losses of 33 percent and 37 percent respectively. "The Delta area got some rain in July and the temperatures there have not been quite as extreme as those in Texas," said Mohler.

    The Financial Times reports that in May agricultural losses caused by the drought had already reached $1.5 billion.

    In this video posted to YouTube by Dr. Erica Irlbeck, an assistant professor of agricultural communications at Texas Tech University, Erica Goss reports on the cotton crops conditions in Texas. Goss is a regional reporter for Ag Days.

    "The largest cause of the drought is the La Nina system," Mohler said. "The La Nina breaks up the normal parade of storms that parade across the lower third of the U.S."

    The rest of the summer will be fairly dry, especially for west Texas.

    "The normal summer rains have not kicked in," said Mohler.

    It is feared that the La Nina will return this fall and the drought conditions will continue.

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