- Wine grapes replacing cotton acreage for farmer facing water shortage.
Out on the plains of the western part of the Texas panhandle, farmers face a stark choice as drought consumes their famous cotton crops: diversify or suffer.
To visit the Bingham family farm, in one of the remotest parts of the panhandle, "you have to use your odometer," according to Cliff Bingham.
… for the second year in a row, the family's cotton crop has been hit hard by drought. Texas is the largest cotton exporter in the world and two-thirds of it is grown on Lubbock's high plains.
Eight years ago, Bingham saw that the dwindling Ogallala aquifer was becoming a bigger problem.
"The amount of water we'll have will be less and less as time goes by, so we started thinking what crop could make us more money per acre."
He chose wine grapes: Tempranillo, Grenache, Montepucliano, Roussanne, Gawurtzraminer. He's found that with grapes, he makes 10 times the profit with the same amount of water. So now all his water goes to grapes, and his cotton is left to Mother Nature.
For more, see: Amid drought, wine grapes save a cotton farmer