Cotton farmers fear dry conditions as they endanger this year’s crop

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ABILENE, TEXAS (KRBC/KTAB) — Farmers throughout the Big Country are on high alert, as wildfire season continues with very little precipitation falling in the area.

Multiple counties are currently under burn bans, including Jones County. The county’s extension agent Steven Estes described the drought conditions that began after spring’s heavy rainfall.

“Once about the middle of June hit, the rain stopped, and we really haven’t received hardly any rain since then,” said Estes.

The cotton fields on the outskirts of Anson are nearing their time of harvest, and soon heavy equipment will drag through rows to collect the crop.

“Little things like this rock here–if the harvester picks that rock up and that rock bangs around in some of the metal within the machine that can easily set off a spark to catch the cotton on fire, ” said Estes.

If the smoldering cotton makes its way from the fields to the gin, workers may have to shut down the system in order to protect not only the crop, but the entire gin from facing minor damage to major catastrophe. And, sometimes, the crop burns unnoticed.

“Sometimes a day or two later, they may see smoke coming out of the modules where they packed the cotton in,” said Estes.

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