COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Texas agriculture officials estimate that cotton producers will plant more acres of the fluffy fiber this year as prices are increasing.

Officials at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expect cotton plantings to stretch across at least 6.5 million acres in the nation's leading production state, The Bryan-College Station Eagle ( http://bit.ly/1kUWJON) reported Sunday. That's 700,000 more acres than were planted in 2013.

Statewide cotton specialist Gaylon Morgan said cotton farmers in some parts of Texas usually begin planting cotton the first week of April after corn and sorghum.

"The slightly cold weather we've had this winter, the more recent colder weather, it really doesn't affect (the cotton) as long as those temperatures warm up, which they will as we move into March and April. But anything that happens before that doesn't matter a whole lot," he said.

He said corn and sorghum plantings were delayed several weeks because of rain and cold weather but the cotton acres planted won't be affected.

Cotton prices have steadily risen this year to nearly 94 cents per pound. Corn, though, dropped to about $4.78 a bushel last week.

About 63 percent of the state remains mired in some stage of drought, with some of the most severe dryness in West Texas, where much cotton is grown.


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Farmers and ranchers are hopeful for rain this year. Three years ago, they endured the hottest and driest year recorded in the state and $7.62 billion in agricultural losses.

Jason Wendler, who farms cotton, corn, wheat and sorghum on 500 acres in Burleson County, said he'll plant 300 of that with cotton. Then he will tend it for four months. He, like other growers, knows there no way to know how the cotton crop will do.

"That would be just like knowing who's going to win the Super Bowl next year," Wendler said.

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Information from: The Eagle, http://www.theeagle.com