Rains jump-start cotton planting
By Robert Burns
COLLEGE STATION -- The forecast for Texas cotton remains mixed, depending upon which part of the state you’re talking about, said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, associate professor and Texas AgriLife Extension Service state cotton specialist, of College Station.
On May 15, Morgan had recently returned from the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Coastal Bend, and Upper Gulf Coast with an encouraging report. Recent rains in South Texas, in many places very substantial ones, had vastly benefited the recently planted cotton crop there, he said.
In the South Plains, High Plains, and Rolling Plains, it could be a different story, he said. Growers there are just starting to kick off planting. All three regions have received some rain in the last couple of weeks, but generally it was just enough to help with planting and ensure the crop emerges. After an extended drought last year, and a dry winter and spring, subsoil moisture has been severely diminished.
Climatologists are predicting above-average temperatures and near normal precipitation for the High Plains, Rolling Plains, and Southern Plains this summer, but there’s still a chance growers could make a decent crop, Morgan said, depending on some “ands” and “ifs.”
On an average year, about 70 percent to 80 percent of the more than 5 million acres of cotton planted in Texas are planted in the High Plains, Rolling Plains, and Southern Plains, Morgan said.
Lower prices for cotton have changed planting intentions this year in some parts of the state, but to a lesser extent in the western areas, he said.
“In 2012, we have observed a significant decrease -- 10 to 25 percent -- in cotton acres in South and Central Texas, with these acres replaced with more corn and/or sorghum acres in 2012,” he said. “This acreage shift is due to good grain prices and declining cotton prices from 2011.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for May 7-14:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported all counties received rain last week, with some reporting 5 inches or more. The rain was accompanied by high winds and hail in some counties. Minor flooding was experienced at some low water crossings. The harvesting of oats and wheat was delayed due to the recent rains. The rain also slowed hay production. Uvalde County implemented Stage III pumping restrictions from the Edwards aquifer. Field crops that were beginning to show some signs of stress seemed to be recovering due to the recent rains.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported most counties received significant rains, with some reporting damaging high winds May 10. The highest damage concern was for corn that had tasseled and the potential for problems associated with pollination. Accumulations ranged from about 1 inch to more than 4 inches. Sunflowers were blooming and sorghum was flowering. In Nueces and Karnes counties, pastures improved. Some producers harvested oats. Wheat yields were low -- about 30 bushels per acre -- due to limited moisture conditions when it was planted. Most of the oat fields were harvested as hay.
Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.