For years Houston County has ranked number one in cotton crop yields, which was until last year. Cotton yields are even lower this year, leading agriculture experts thinking farmers may get out of the business of growing cotton.
Last year alone agriculture accounted for almost 30 million dollars of total value, but the drought and high production costs are causing some farmers to consider quitting the business.
Cotton farmers are harvesting their crops and realizing what a large effect the drought has had. Hit and miss showers slowed down the growth of the entire crop and greatly reduced average yields.
"This year cotton is 400 pounds per acre and last year about a bail and a half so we're looking at about a 50 percent reduction," said Willie Durr of Houston Co. Extension Office
Some fields produced so little cotton this year that farmers are choosing not to harvest. That’s because the input costs to run the machines would be greater the return on the cotton.
If this low return rate continues, agriculture experts think many farmers may get out of the cotton growing business.
"We are seeing fewer acres planted and anticipating if farmers will continue to plant cotton."
Not only are farmers producing less cotton this year, but they are also getting less money per pound because cotton is cheaper on the world market.
Right now, China is the top producer of cotton in the world and local farmers just can't keep up with their low wages and low wholesale prices.
While some farmers will lose money from this year’s cotton crop, most diversify their crops enough to ensure that they maintain their standard of living even if one crop does not do well.