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Agriculture Today

Early South Plains cotton yield reports very promising

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Robert Burns
October 30, 2013 | 3,968 views | Post a comment

COLLEGE STATION -- Despite so many cards being dealt against it through the growing season, South Plains cotton looks very promising, said Mark Kelley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service cotton specialist, Lubbock.

The region had a cooler-than-normal spring and late freezes, and remained locked in drought by mid-summer, Kelley said. There were also the usual High Plains pitfalls of hail, high winds, and blowing sand that knocked out some fields. And many dryland re-plantings of hailed-out or blown-out fields were late, bumping right up against the crop insurance planting deadlines.

And the latest discouraging development was that winter came early this year to the area, with freezing or near-freezing weather shutting down late-set boll development on late-planted cotton that could have really used another couple of weeks to finish out, he said.

“They had their first freeze earlier this month farther north, but around Lubbock we just recently had 32 degrees for a little bit the other night,” he said. “This means any boll maturation is done, so we’re just waiting for harvest aides to go out and dry those plants down to get them ready for stripper harvest.”

Kelley said the average first freeze for the area is around Oct. 31.

“We had some cotton that was pretty late planted and pushed hard by irrigation and sure could have used the rest of October to finish up, and some warmer temperatures too, but we don’t always get what we want.”

Yet early yield reports have been very good.

“I have heard of some very good yields coming out of the better-irrigated cotton,” Kelley said. “Some producers south of Lubbock actually made the one-ton club, or harvested four bales of cotton per acre. I heard another producer making two and one-half bales per acre, and that wasn’t on his better stuff. His better stuff is yet to be harvested.”

Dryland cotton could have used another rain toward the end of the season, around the first part of August, he said. But in areas where the farmers got some decent rains, Kelley said he had heard reports of 500 to 550 pounds per acre.

“That’s on some really good dryland,” he said. “On the rest of it, I’m hearing 250 pounds -- a half bale per acre.”

Early reports on quality have been good too, Kelley said. But when some of the latest planted cotton is harvested, they may have low micronaire values, a measure of fiber characteristics that’s important for cotton classers and spinners, he said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the Oct. 22 report:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported that most counties received 0.5 inch to 4 inches of rain, which helped alleviate drought conditions. Days and nights became cooler. The moisture helped wheat, oats, and rangeland. Fall corn neared maturity and looked great.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported pastures continued to improve with recent rains. Ponds were full in many areas, but some remained low. The harvest of early maturing pecan varieties continued with reports of low insect and disease damage. However, some pecan growers reported little or no crop due to the impact of squirrels and crows on what was already a low-nut load. Armyworm activity in some winter pastures was reported and producers continued to spray for armyworms to reduce forage losses. Some producers planted winter pastures before rain. Some producers expected to be able to take another hay cutting after fields dry out.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the South District, including Atascosa County, reported rain continued to fall throughout the region, with the northern and western counties receiving the most. In some counties, the rains caused flooding, road closures, and halted field activities, but definitely benefited crops, rangeland, pastures, and livestock. Amounts ranged from a few inches to 11 to 13 inches in parts of La Salle County and 15 inches in Dimmit County.

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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