RUNNELS COUNTY - Area cotton producers had a surprisingly great season this year thanks to good weather and more acreage planted.

RUNNELS COUNTY - Area cotton producers had a surprisingly great season this year thanks to good weather and more acreage planted.

According to the Karin Kuykendahl, executive director of the Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association, there was a total of 323,000 bales of cotton produced in this region, up from the 275,000 last year.

“It was a record year,” said Kuykendahl, adding that this was the best year since 2007 when 301,000 bales were counted.

“It was a tough season but it held on,” she said. “I wasn't expecting a crop like this, I thought it would be less but we had more acres planted.”

According to the Farm Service Agency, there were 86,000 acres of cotton planted in Runnels County in the 2017-18 season.

That translated in to more bales ginned.

According to Kuykendahl’s estimates, for this year as of Friday, March 2, Miles Co-Op Gin was going to have 44,000 bales, Wingate was to have 49,300 bales, Highway 67 Gin had 69,075, Elm Creek Gin had 10,000 bales, the gin in Wall had 85,000 and Mereta was estimated to have 75,000 bales.

But not all of the gins are finished. There were still modules lined up at Miles Co-Op Gin Thursday where Dawn Kalina said they had “about two weeks to go.”

Highway 67 Gin finished on February 19, said Deborah Hohensee. She said they finished because they “just kept going.”

However, she said it was not a record year for them. She said 2014 was a record year at that gin, headed up by Max Kerley, when 72,000 bales were produced.

The harvest this year, was significantly better than the 2016-17 harvest, when the Highway 67 Gin ginned 60,716 bales, a total of 2,538 bales were ginned in Norton; 24,900 bales were ginned in Wingate; 9,300 bales were ginned at the Elm Creek Gin in Ballinger, 65,187 bales were ginned in Mereta and Wall had the largest total bales ginned with 72,035 bales.

“For West Texas and the quality report on the cotton looks really good,” she said. “As a region it is good - the vast majority of the crop is good.”

But as in years past, the crop depends heavily on the weather. And it will in the coming season too.

Runnels County Extension Agent Marty Vahlenkamp said said there will be a lot of acres planted come May.

Wheat is already in the ground and thanks to recent rains, it is starting to look good in some areas, however, the wheat crop may not be the quality that producers are aiming for.

“Weather will dictate what kind of crop we have,” Vahlenkamp said.

Kuykendahl agreed.

“We still need rain for this season,” she said.