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Researchers Predict Texas' Cotton Can Withstand Climate Change

Randy Boman
Texas A&M University

Texas produces about one quarter of the country’s cotton. So – what impact could climate change have on the multibillion dollar crop? A recent study from  Texas A&M University offers a forecast. 

Scientists expect the future to be warmer and dryer.

While Texas’ high plains region sits on one of the world’s largest aquifers, farmers there are already facing challenges like declining groundwater which is used for irrigation, and recurring droughts.

Researchers at Texas A&M Agrilife, including Srini Ale, say water will continue to be crucial for the crop. “Maintaining irrigation availability, irrigation water availability will be a key factor to sustaining these climate change impacts in the future," says Ale. 

But on the bright side - more carbon emissions in the future also mean higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air. Researchers say that’s actually helpful for cotton, especially when it’s dry. It increases the yield.

The amount of precipitation and politics impacting available water may be unknown, but Ale says "overall, things look favorable or positive in terms of the cotton production in the future.”

Virginia joined Texas Public Radio in September, 2015. Prior to hosting and producing Fronteras for TPR, she worked at WBOI in Indiana to report on often overlooked stories in the community. Virginia began her reporting career at the Statehouse in Salem, OR, and has reported for the Northwest News Network and Oregon Public Broadcasting.