"We usually try to get things started by October, and, ideally, we want to be through by Christmas," explained Shields.
But that wasn't possible this season, thanks to the recent heavy hits of cold weather. Now, most West Texas cotton farmers are weeks behind.
"Well, we had the ice storm after thanksgiving, and then, we had another one the next weekend. I can't remember if we had a third, but in between all of that and the holidays, things just didn't work out to where we could get through."
Cotton farmers prefer to pick the harvest as soon as possible to ensure the best quality of their crop. So as batches of cotton sit in the fields, it's assumed its quality won't be as high now.
Because of that and slightly unfavorable growing conditions, the cotton in Shields' field isn't as good as he'd hoped. But despite that, he says this season is still better than the previous one.
"The drought eased up some. We didn't have so many 100 degree days this summer. We've already made twice as much this year as last year."
As he finishes up the cotton season, Shields must now worry about a task delayed by the late harvest.
"We plant wheat as quick as we get the cotton off. Normally, we would have about 3000 acres of wheat sowed, and we've only sowed about 1500 acres."
And since the final planting day for wheat was on yesterday, any additional wheat Shields sows will be uninsured. That means if the crop fails, he loses both the time and money he risked.
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