Texas cotton yields mixed, report says

Cotton in the Brazos River Bottom is doing well, says Carl Anderson, Extension economist and cotton specialist in College Station.

"Harvest has been slowed tremendously because of the rain we have had lately," he said. "All of the cotton here is defoliated. Sunny, dry weather is what we really need now."

Cotton was planted in early-April, and very little was harvested before it began to rain. "The rain hurt the quality a bit by taking away some of the color and brightness of the open bolls, but overall producers in Central Texas are still expecting an above-average crop," Anderson said.

Before the recent rains, the crop was progressing nicely. The dryland cotton was a bit stressed due to the dry heat, but irrigated cotton was doing well, he said.

"I have heard from producers that they expect to get about two to three bales of cotton per acre. There was more acreage planted this year because of how well cotton did last year," he said.

The boll weevil control program has also helped tremendously in keeping weevil infestations down, Anderson said.

Cotton harvest in the Rio Grande Valley also went well this year, said John Robinson, Extension economist in Weslaco.

Planting began in late February and continued into mid-March. There was good soil moisture at planting time, so producers planted more acres than they normally would have, Robinson said.

All of the cotton in this area has been harvested due to the plow law, which says all stalks must be plowed or sprayed with herbicide by Sept. 1.

"I have talked to producers who said they expect for their dryland cotton to yield two bales per acre. This is exceptional and extremely rare," Robinson said.

Last year, cotton yielded about 557 pounds per acre. This year yields are expected to be around 567 pounds per acre. Although that may not seem like a dramatic increase, it shows there are some excellent yields out there, which are pushing up the average, he said.

Cotton in the Rolling Plains and Southern High Plains, however, did not have such good luck. It was devastated by hail, high winds and heavy rains. More than 1 million acres of cotton were destroyed around planting time in these areas, Anderson said.

Galen Chandler, district Extension director in Vernon, said the cotton crop in his area is progressing very slowly due to the limited amount of rainfall received.

Jett Major, district Extension director in Lubbock, said most of the cotton in the Southern Plains is beginning to open up. Insect pressure is relatively light, and aphid populations are decreasing, he said.

Market prices are also up substantially from last year. Last August, cotton was selling at 31 cents a pound. It is currently selling for more than 50 cents a pound and is expected to increase as harvest continues, Anderson said.

Grain sorghum yields in South Texas are also above average. Currently, sorghum is producing yields of 3,405 pounds per acre, compared to last year's 1,905 pounds per acre, Robinson said.

The following specific livestock, crop and weather conditions were reported by district Extension directors:

PANHANDLE: soil moisture short to surplus in some areas. Corn continues to mature. Irrigated sorghum is 75 percent headed and is rated poor to good. Rain came too late for dryland sorghum. Cotton is rated very poor to fair. Few bolls have opened in the southeast Panhandle area. Wheat planting will rapidly increase now that soil moisture in most areas is adequate for germination. Range conditions vary from poor to fair. Cattle are rated in good condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: soil moisture very short to short. Pastures and ranges are in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding continues. Cotton is in fair condition. Corn harvest hampered due to wet conditions. Peanuts are in good condition and progressing well. Dryland sorghum that was planted late is still under drought stress. Pumpkins remain in good condition. With the recent moisture, wheat planting has begun in some counties.

ROLLING PLAINS: soil moisture adequate. Cotton crop continues to progress with limited significant rainfall. Wheat farmers are busy preparing land for sowing. Range and pastures have improves slightly over the past two weeks with the scattered showers. Livestock conditions are average. Water tanks are still low and need rain to refill them. Fall calving season has begun on many ranches.

NORTH TEXAS: soil moisture very short to adequate to surplus in some areas. Cotton is rated fair to good. Corn and sorghum harvest is underway. Wheat planting has begun. Rice harvest has begun.

EAST TEXAS: soil moisture short to adequate. Grass has begun to grow after rains. Hay supplies are good; additional cuttings are anticipated. Livestock is in good condition. Markets are steady.

FAR WEST TEXAS: soil moisture short to adequate. Temperatures have been cooler this week. Cotton is beginning to set bolls. Sorghum is 45 percent to 55 percent headed. Glasscock County reports quail and turkey populations are doing well.

WEST CENTRAL TEXAS: soil moisture short to adequate. Sorghum has been harvested with average to below-average yields. Small grain planting has begun in places where moisture allows. Range and pastures are improving. Livestock conditions remain good.

CENTRAL TEXAS: soil moisture short. Range and pasture conditions are improving slowly with rainfall. Cattle remain in good condition due to decent forage supplements. Cotton harvest made good progress this week. Yields are excellent. Pecan crop is doing well. Small grain planting continues.

SOUTHEAST TEXAS: soil moisture short to adequate. Corn and grain sorghum are harvested, except for a few late-planted fields. Peanut crop needs rain. Hay is still being harvested. Rice harvest continues.

SOUTHWEST TEXAS: soil moisture short. Pastures, ranges and lawns are entering mid-summer dormancy. Livestock remains in good condition, but ranchers are providing heavy supplementation. Forage availability is below average for this time of year. Cotton harvest is about 60 percent complete with good yields and quality being reported. Peanut harvest should begin by mid-September.

COASTAL BEND: soil moisture short to adequate. Rain slowed cotton harvest and stalk destruction. Range and pastures are in good shape. Ranchers are preparing to plant winter forages of oats and ryegrass. Cattle are in good condition.

SOUTH TEXAS: soil moisture adequate. Scattered rainfall throughout the week. Fall corn is germinating. Range and pastures are improving from heat and drought stress.

Ellen Klostermann is a writer for Texas A&M University.

e-mail: [email protected]

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