Storm damage to cotton crops near Fabens (Photo – Saul Cortez)
Monday night’s storm that spawned a Tornado Warning for Far-East El Paso County looks to have devastated some farmer’s cotton crops.
The storm swept through the Lower Valley, forcing residents of Fabens and Tornillo to take cover as the torrential rains and golf ball-sized hail slammed the area.
For a brief period during the storms, the fire stations in each community were opened as shelters, and a handful of residents sought refuge at both locations. Street floods were reported in both communities as arroyos overflowed into nearby streets.
There were scattered reports of some roof damage as well in Tornillo, where the storm seemingly took aim.
While the towns seemed to escape most of the damage, it was the surrounding farms that took the brunt of the storm, with cotton farmers and their soon-to-be harvested crops hardest hit.
Before the storm, the fields were solid green, punctuated with the tell-tale puffs of white cotton, exploding from the plants. A picture taken
this morning shows the plants stripped and discolored; the fields a soggy mix of mud and the shredded remains of the cotton bolls.
According to one farming family on Facebook, they lost a ‘majority’ of the season’s crop and were still evaluating neighbors fields as well.
“It was odd,” said Bertha Spence, wife of a Fabens-area farmer, “the winds hit us at an angle.” Spence went on to say that the fields were set to be harvested this coming Monday. According to reports, only 16% of the cotton had been harvested in the state, a percentage seemingly echoed in the valley.
The storm damage adds to the woes farmers statewide have had to endure this year. As cotton prices continue to be low, and the prices for materials needed to maintain the crops (fertilizer, pesticide, etc) rising; many farmers cut back on the acreage planted this year.
If Monday’s storm wasn’t bad enough, residents could be in for another similar night of storms.
According to the National Weather Service, today could see a repeat of yesterday’s storms, not good news for farmers who were getting ready to harvest their crops.