Jeannie Hileman's clients may receive an unexpected gift— a good cotton crop—thanks to timely rains. Hileman, who manages the Farmers Coop Gin in Carnegie, Okla., says the rain and accompanying cool weather this summer nearly wrecked the cotton crop before it got started.
"We like to get the cotton planted early so it can have a full season to mature," she says. "Spring rains came with cool fronts, and a lot of wind slowed down cotton planting and made a lot of the cotton late.
"Luckily, rains have continued on into August to keep the crop growing."
Hileman said her farmers had 4,000 acres of dryland cotton and 8,000 irrigated cotton in Caddo and Comanche counties. But cotton growers as far west as Elk City haul their crops to the Carnegie facility.
"There isn't much irrigation water available in the Elk City and Canute areas," she says. "But they have received some good rain. In that particular area, the dryland cotton should make good yields if the rain continues."
The area needs a good Indian summer for the cotton to mature. An early, warm, dry fall is will mature cotton bolls without rain causing extra plant growth.
"A lot of rain late in the growing season can cause the cotton plant to throw off its bolls and start growing again. The plant will add more bolls, but that late in the growing season there is no time for the bolls to mature before frost.”
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Carnegie and Caddo Counties seem to be the stepping-off place where plentiful rains have fallen. West of Carnegie, grass and crops are growing and the countryside is green for the first time in three years
John Schieber, a Union City, Okla., farmer wishes he had planted more cotton this year. "Well, you do what you have to do with what information you have at the time," he says, standing in his 400-acre field of cotton. "Ordinarily, in better times, I would have 1,250 acres of cotton, but the past two-and-a-half years of drought, and crop market shifts, caused me and my neighbors to plant more grain sorghum and soybeans this year."
Schieber farms in the fertile valleys of the North Canadian River southwest of Oklahoma City. The 400 acres of Deltapine cotton is growing well. Inclement weather caused his cotton crop to be late emerging from the soil, he says.
"My cotton came up in scattered bunches," he says. "It took awhile before the rows were filled in and all of the cotton was growing and in good shape."
Schieber is seeing pigweed in his fields with resistance to Roundup. "I can look over my fields and see several huge pigweed plants growing where I applied Roundup earlier in the year," he says. "Banvel and Roundup will take care of the resistance problem now, but I have to apply the mixture of herbicides at the right time."
Schieber likes to grow cotton in rotation with corn in no-till fields. "The cotton benefits from fertilizer applied earlier to the corn crop grown before the cotton. My corn and soybeans are growing well now."
He watered cotton from center pivot systems twice this year, applying one inch of water each time. Timely rain helped to fill in needed moisture.
Schieber also owns a module-building cotton harvester he uses to harvest his own crop as well as for other farmers around the state.
"We could see some two-and-a-half bale per acre cotton this fall," he said. "Maybe even some three-bale cotton."
Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University cotton research director, says "most of the 2013 Oklahoma cotton crop is blooming or nearly blooming. Where irrigation is adequate, fields are progressing well, he says in the Cotton Comments online report.
Dryland fields planted close to the final planting date of June 20 — to qualify for insurance — are a little late this year. Triple digit temperatures with high winds have returned to the far southwestern corner of the state for the past week, he adds. This has resulted in high crop evapotranspiration and is taking depleting toll what soil moisture is available. The Mesonet precipitation map (available at the Cotton Comments website) indicates although there has been some timely rainfall in July, it will be necessary to obtain additional rainfall soon in order to keep cotton crop progress moving in the right direction.
Farther southwest, Texas A&M University agronomists report conditions remain favorable for crops. Recent rains and temperatures in the high 90s to 100 degrees gave crops a boost during the past few weeks in the Rolling Plains. However, more rain will be needed if daytime highs continue to be near 100 degrees. Cotton plants grew more than a foot in the past week, the report states, and were squaring in some areas. This year's cotton crop will be a little late, but producers were hopeful for a late freeze to let the crop mature.