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Agriculture Today

Expert: Texas cotton ‘all over the board’

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Robert Burns
September 12, 2012 | 5,593 views | Post a comment

COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas cotton crop is “all over the board,” according to Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service statewide cotton specialist, College Station.

Morgan briefly summed up the situation, starting in South Texas.

The Rio Grande Valley has wrapped up its irrigated cotton harvest, he said. The Coastal Bend area finished quite some time ago, with most fields either showing very low yields or being disastered-out by crop insurance adjusters.

“As you move up the coast, into Victoria and the upper Gulf Coast region -- Wharton, El Campo and Colorado County areas -- things are actually looking very good,” Morgan said. “We harvested some cotton variety trials down there, and a lot was pushing two-and-a-half to a little over three bales per acre.”

North into the Brazos Valley, the cotton harvest just started last week, but Morgan expected yields on both dryland and irrigated cotton to be very good.

In the Blacklands, the harvest was nearly over, with yields varying greatly depending on rainfall, ranging from a little more than a bale to as much as two bales per acre.

The Rolling Plains has been suffering from a substantial drought most of the season, which has hammered both dryland and irrigated cotton production, Morgan said.

In the High Plains and South Plains, it’s again a “mixed bag,” Morgan said. Dryland cotton is lost, but the recent rains helped supplement irrigation there too.

“There have been some areas where scattered showers fell and dryland cotton looked decent, but as a whole, they continued to suffer from the long-term drought,” he said.

It’s too early to make estimates for the total Texas cotton crop, but simply because so much of the state’s cotton is usually grown in the Southern Plains and Rolling Plains, it will certainly be a below-normal year, Morgan noted.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported extremely dry, hot conditions continued, with a few counties receiving very light scattered showers. Pastures continued to decline with grasses going dormant. The corn and sorghum harvests were completed. Cotton was largely harvested with good yields similar to last year’s. Field preparation for small-grain planting was in progress. Livestock remained in good condition where forage was available. Rangeland was in poor condition with the risk for wildfire high.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the South District, including Atascosa County, reported hot, dry, and windy conditions continued. Soil-moisture levels ranged from short to very short in all counties, with the exception of Atascosa and Willacy counties, where they were 75 to about 80 percent adequate. Though soil moisture was rated adequate in those counties, it was not enough to green up rangeland and pastures that had been severely dried out over the summer. Ranchers continued to increase supplemental feeding of livestock to maintain good to fair body condition. Rangeland and pastures continue to worsen; very little standing forage was available and of poor nutritional value if it was. Hay was scarce and very expensive. Stock tanks were either completely dry or nearly so. Dried-up stock tanks were causing hardship for livestock ranchers and wildlife as well. In Atascosa County, irrigated peanuts were doing well, and the cotton harvest was under way.

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.

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