Texas crop, weather report: Cotton production heating up

Cotton needs heat units to mature and while things started out slowly for much of the crop, it is now back on track on the High Plains, said a Texas Cooperative Extension specialist.

"The cotton crop looks good," said Dr. Brent Bean, Extension agronomist

in Amarillo. "It certainly has matured on out."

Bean said a cool early August put the crop a couple weeks behind.

"But we had a good (late) August and September and things have caught up," he said. "Heat units don't look to be a problem this year."

A good bit of dryland cotton is being stripped south of Lubbock, and the harvest will move north in the next couple weeks, Bean said.

"It's matured as much as it is going to," he said. "Now it is a question of it drying down and getting ready for harvest."

The following condition reports are from Extension officials:

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above normal late in the week. Soil moisture ranged from very short to adequate. Most areas reported short. Corn harvest neared completion with good yields. Cotton ranged from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting good. Most areas reported sorghum in the mature stage and rated it fair. Harvest began in some fields. Soybeans were rated good. Sunflower harvest began. Wheat ranged from fair to excellent with most areas reporting fair. Range and pasture conditions were very poor to excellent with most areas reporting good. Cattle were in good condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: Mostly hot this week with temperatures in the mid 80s F to the low 90s F. Heat unit accumulation was good for this time of year. Cotton was in fair to good condition and producers continued to apply harvest aids. Cotton harvest began in a few areas with good to excellent yields and grades being reported. Corn harvest started to wind down. Grain sorghum harvest continued with good yields. Peanut harvest continued; yields and grades were good overall. Watermelon harvest is winding down. Seedling wheat stands were good. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition. Livestock were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: The region finally received the heat units cotton producers needed all summer. Warm to hot days and cool nights were the norm for the past week. The cotton crop is late, but should turn out well. More bolls open every day. Producers hope for a late freeze to allow plants to mature fully. Soil moisture levels have declined, and some producers need rain. Pastures and winter wheat need moisture. Some producers await rain to plant winter wheat. In the eastern part of the district, dry conditions put a halt to small-grains planting. Wheat seed sales also stalled due to dry weather and high seed costs. Many area producers harvested their final hay cutting. Peanut producers started harvest.

NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate to short, with the past two weeks unseasonably warm and dry. Top soil moisture was low and drying out in some places. Most small-grains producers were waiting for soil moisture to plant. Some stock tanks and farm pond levels were dropping. Spotty showers across some counties refreshed the grass and helped get the winter annuals started. Ranchers were planting for winter and spring grazing, using primarily ryegrass or pasture mixes of ryegrass, wheat and oats. Some dusting of wheat for harvest and some winter pastures occurred. A lot of hay was grown this season, but most was of poor quality because producers could not harvest at the proper time due to rain. Forage prstill harvesting hay. Pastures looked extremely good. Cotton was in good condition and harvest in full swing, with the majority of cotton harvested. Livestock producers were waiting for moisture before planting winter pastures. Livestock were in good shape. Sweet potato yields varied depending on the ground type. Armyworms, flies and spiders increased in some areas.

EAST: Pastures were extremely dry due to unseasonably warm temperatures with spotty to no rainfall. Some areas have not received rainfall since Aug. 1. Hay harvest continued but is winding down. Armyworm pressure was down. Cattle were in good condition. Large numbers of flies on cattle were reported. With the cost of winter pasture seed and over abundance of hay, some producers were not planting as much cool-season pasture as in the past. Others were waiting on fall rains. Webworms and caterpillars were defoliating trees in some areas.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranged from very short to surplus, and crops and pastures were in very poor to good condition. Cotton was rated poor to excellent. Winter wheat was in good to excellent condition. Oats were in fair condition. Total precipitation reported for the district was one-half inch. Cotton continued to open and most farmers started applying harvest-aid chemicals. A small amount has been harvested. Wheat planting started, and sorghum harvest continued.

WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures remained warm and mild for the week with cool nights. Some areas reported scattered showers. Some producers were defoliating cotton. Wheat planting continued. Field preparations for fall planting continued. Hay harvest continued. Small grains emerged. Sorghum was harvested with good to excellent yields. Range and pasture grasses continued good growth. Livestock remained in good to excellent condition. Internal parasite problems were still an issue in sheep and goats. Some fall livestock work was underway. Early pecan harvest was underway.

CENTRAL: Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Stock tanks remained full and livestock were in good condition. Final cuttings on hay continued. Field preparation for small grains were underway. Cotton harvest was in full swing with the majority of cotton harvested.

SOUTHEAST: The forage continued in quantity however the quality was poor. Very dry weather and high humidity. Hay operations continued. Cotton harvest continued in full force as producers took advantage of dry conditions. Land was turned over for next year's harvest. Livestock conditions remained stable.

SOUTHWEST: While year-to-date rainfall remained at about 30 percent above the long-term average, the region has been completely dry for more than a month. The last economically significant rainfall came on Sept. 4. Farmers were irrigating fall crops. Forage availability remained above average, but weather forecasts are predicting a very dry fall/winter season. The region needs rain soon to sustain agricultural production through the winter. The cotton harvest continued but is behind schedule. Yields and quality were good, but lower than last year's record yields. Also, excessive rain in July caused some cotton fields to produce too much vegetation, and some farmers experienced difficulties defoliating fields prior to harvest. The required plow-up date of Oct. 11 was extended to Oct. 31. Delayed plow-up, excessive vegetation and high moisture in the stubble in some fields caused increased boll weevil populations, which may increase boll weevil problems next season. Peanuts, green beans and cabbage continued to make good progress. The cabbage and peanut harvest was gaining momentum. Pecan harvest was in full swing.

COASTAL BEND: no report available.

SOUTH: Most parts of the region have adequate soil moisture. Weather conditions were mild with cooler temperatures. Cotton harvesting in the western parts of the region was in full force as producers took advantage of the favorable dry conditions. Dryland oat and wheat producers continued their planting adequate soil moisture for germination. Spinach, cabbage and onion planting is expected to begin by mid week. Cotton stalk destruction in some areas was halted due to wet fields, while field operations increased in other areas as the fields dried out. Fall tomato planting has begun in the western part of the region. Livestock conditions, as well as native range and pastures remained good to excellent.

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