Cotton harvest ranges from about one-third to half complete for Texas High Plains producers as they rush to get ahead of a predicted El Niño that could bring in significant amounts of rain over the next month or two.
Some farmers report yields may be off a bit from what they would like but perhaps better than many expected back in late spring and early summer when a combination of weather-delayed planting followed by drought set the crop back.
“As usual, yield prospects are widely variable across the High Plains,” says Steve Verett, Executive Vice President, Plains Cotton Growers, Lubbock. He says some counties had plenty of rain during the summer and are poised to make very good yields. Others received varying amounts of precipitation and yields will be mixed.
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Verett says after a slow start with limited heat units, the season turned and by late September heat units had caught up and surpassed typical numbers. “From May 15 through July 31, heat unit accumulation was 4 percent behind,” says Shawn Wade, Director of Policy Analysis and Research, PCG. “From Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, heat units were 10 percent above normal and from Aug. 1 through Oct. 15, heat unit total was 21 percent above normal.”
Except for areas with no rain, the summer was a pretty good one for cotton. Temperatures were hot, but not oppressive. “We had only two or three days above 100," Verett said. “We had a lot of 95 degree days.”
He says harvest will be a priority over the next few weeks. “It looks like the El Niño predictions are going to happen.”