Issue: Cotton is a major crop for Runnels County.
Local impact: Local producers are hopeful that Runnels County's harvest will good and won't be affected by the loss of thousands of acres of cotton fields ravaged on the coast by Hurricane Harvey.

RUNNELS COUNTY - Cotton producers in and around Runnels County are hopeful for a record year but it all depends on just the right mixture of moisture, sunshine and well, luck.

Chad Halfmann, one of the many cotton producers in Runnels County, said his crop looks excellent so far, at least his fields located near Miles do.

A fifth generation cotton grower, Halfmann said he is generally pleased with the fields he planted with his brother Cody, 2.7 miles east of Miles.

“We planted the third week of June and it is flowering,” Halfmann said. “We always pray for rain.”

Karin Kuykendall, executive director of the Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association, said generally, the crop is good in the 43 counties that she oversees that reach to the border of Oklahoma.

And even though Hurricane Harvey destroyed the crop on the southern coastal bend area, that loss won’t have much of an effect on the cotton produced in West Texas.

Cotton farmers along the coast had already harvested, ginned and baled the cotton.

“They lost 300,000-400,000 bales,” she said. “It’s just horrible. But even with those losses down there we won’t see much of effect on the projected 8 million bale crop we expect this year.”

Congressman Mike Conaway (R-Midland) said last week during a town hall n Ballinger, that the losses on the coast will definitely play a role in how he approaches revamping the Farm Bill, which expires in September of 2018.

He said the key will be to look at crop insurance which only pays 70 percent on losses.

The weather is key for area producers - and that is what will make or break the crop this year.

“We do not want an early freeze,” Kuykendall said.

Paul Minzenmayer, who has cotton planted throughout Runnels County, said in some places it’s growing well and in others, like in his field near Olfen, it’s dry.

“My wettest and driest places are just five miles apart,” he said.

Kuykendall said last year’s crop was great and “near record,” rivaling the “great” crop of 2014.

“We had some cotton that was re-planted late and we need some to let it mature,” Kuykendall said.

Each year, between 50,000 and 60,000 acres of cotton is typically produced in Runnels County and about 200 pounds per acre is produced.