Several important factors affect the 2010 cotton crop. Some are on the plus side and some are on the minus side, but most people in the know will tell you the plus side outweighs the minuses by a lot.
For instance, due to a large international demand for cotton fiber, cotton prices are the highest they have been in a long time. Reports indicate 2009 old crop cotton sold for 85 cents per pound last week.
Good prices, plenty of acres planted and excellent yield prospects for irrigated cotton make up the good news in this final stage of the 2010 crop.
On the minus side, dryland cotton, where it did not rain, has been hurt by hot, dry weather. But where it did rain, dryland cotton has good prospects.
Craig Bolton, manager of the Tri-County Gin east of Chattanooga, Okla., in Tillman County, said his farmer clients planted a lot of dryland cotton, approximately 30,000 acres. After planting, wet weather helped the crop grow well, but with July, Bolton said, came heat stress that lowered their expectations for a top crop.
"We hope we will see three-quarter bale cotton this fall," he said. "Earlier, when we realized we had 30,000 acres planted around here and with the good growing conditions, we were hoping for 30,000 bales. Now, I think we will gin around 20,000 bales."
Bolton says with good prices and plenty of acres to harvest, 2010 will still be a good year for his cotton growers.
Farther north near Carnegie, Okla., Jeannie Hileman, gin manager for Farmers Coop Gin, in Caddo County, sees an excellent crop of irrigated cotton developing for her customers.
"We will see a lot of two- and three-bale cotton come out of the irrigated fields," she said. "There may even some four-bale irrigated cotton harvested. We had several farmers with yields of four bales to the acre from irrigated cotton last year."
Jeannie sold 2009 cotton for 85 cents per pound last week. She believes good prices will hold for the 2010 crop. Dryland cotton really looks good, if there was enough rain to supply moisture. In those areas that remained dry, yields will be less this year than expected, she said.
"There could be some two-bale dryland cotton where there was plenty of rain," she said.
Lynn Scalf, manager of the Farmers Cooperative Gin at Martha, Okla., in Jackson County, gins mostly irrigated cotton from the federal irrigation district there, and also receives dryland cotton from as far north as Elk City, Okla.