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High Plains Cotton ‘Chugging Along’

High Plains Cotton ‘Chugging Along’

09 October 2014

US - While nearly all Gulf Coast and Central Texas cotton has been harvested, much of the Texas High Plains cotton is still two weeks away, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomists.

Rain delayed the cotton harvest in the upper Gulf Coast and parts of the Blackland region for a while, but producers have pretty much caught up now, said Dr Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension statewide cotton specialist, College Station.

“I’d say 95-plus percent of the upper Gulf Coast crop is done, if not all of it,” Dr Morgan said.

“In the Blacklands, for the most part, those guys have wrapped up too. There’s still some in the Brazos bottom – part of the irrigated cotton is still around. But as a whole, they’re about 85-plus percent done on the irrigated ground; maybe 95 percent done on the dryland.”

cotton harvest
In the Little River Bottom area in Milam County, northwest of College Station, rows of round cotton modules await delivery to a local gin. This field averaged more than three bales per acre, according to Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service statewide cotton specialist, College Station. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Gaylon Morgan)

Overall, Blacklands and upper Gulf Coast producers have been very pleased with their yields, he said.

“As usual in the Blacklands, there was a big range in yields this year, but there were a lot of cotton fields with over two-bales-per-acre yields,” Morgan said. “Some irrigated fields have pushed over four bales per acre.”

In the Texas High Plains, the region has had some good moisture recently, which overall was good news, said Mark Kelley, AgriLife Extension cotton specialist, Lubbock.

“We’ve come a long way in the last two or three weeks toward maturing this crop out, especially on the irrigated fields,” Kelley said.

“The dryland fields had issues before the rain. We went through a drought period, 65 or 70 days without rainfall, and then the high temperatures we had on Labor Day pretty much finished it off, but not all of it. There’s still some good dryland.”

There have been some producers worried about low temperatures and an early October freeze, he said, but recent weather has been very favorable for the crop.

“We got 11 heat units yesterday (Oct. 6) and 15 heat units today, so we’re chugging along. We’re still maturing fiber out here,” he said.

Heat units are calculated by taking the mean of the daily high and the daily low, then subtracting 60, according to Kelley. Typically, most cotton varieties need a total of about 2,200 to 2,400 units in a season, depending up the nature of the heat units.

“With temperatures above 100, you’re generally going the wrong direction. The plant then is pretty much using all its energy just to stay cool.”

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