Several cotton modules await processing outside Big Spring Gin Tuesday afternoon. Officials are calling this year's crop, which is drawing record prices on the futures market, above-average in both quantity and quality. (HERALD photo/Steve Reagan)
Observers of the area agriculture scene agree: This year's cotton crop could have better, but it could have been worse, too.
A crop that's been called â€śbetter than averageâ€ť and is bringing in record prices is winding its way through area cotton gins, meaning that area producers can soon put a bow on this year's efforts.
Cotton futures are currently trading at about $1.40 a pound. Most area producers won't be receiving that much for their crop, since they either contracted earlier this year or have placed their cotton in â€śpools,â€ť which means they will receive a certain amount over loan value for their product.
Still, few are complaining.
â€śIt's bizarre,â€ť said Rene Beall, secretary of Big Spring Gin. â€śI haven't seen anything like this, and I've been doing this a long time.â€ť
Beall estimated that Big Spring Gin will process around 57,000 bales of cotton by the time it shuts down operations sometime in January. That represents a significant jump from last year's mark of 39,000 bales.
Given some more timely rains, that number could have approached 2007 levels, which are the gold standard for bumper crops in this area.
â€śWe were one rain away from a 2007 crop,â€ť Beall said. â€śIf we had gotten another rain or two in August, we would have had that. But this year's crop is definitely above average.â€ť