The 2005 cotton crop is giving farm families across Lamb and Hale counties much to celebrate this holiday season. With 2 to 3-bale cotton being the norm, turkeys and stockings won’t be the only things stuffed this time of year. Producers are hoping their bank accounts will be as well.

“The grades have been fantastic,” says Olton CO-OP Gin manager Chris Breedlove. “Our producers are getting paid about a nickel better or $25 per bale more than they did in 2004. And because of the grades, they’re getting about 2 cents over loan, which is about 53.60 cents.”

For many producers, 2005 will hold the title of “the highest yields” of their farming career. It has for one Lamb County producer, who’s been farming for 32 years.

“I’ve averaged about 2.8 to 2.9 bales to the acre,” says Charles Ramage, who also farms land in Hale County. “This is the best I’ve ever made. It feels pretty good. It was fun to strip cotton like this.”

Ramage grew FiberMax 958 and 960 irrigated cotton. Over the last four years, he says his farms have averaged about 2 bales. He credits several factors for producing this year’s bountiful crop.

“This cotton was good from the start. We planted the first of May and it came up real well and then we had a good summer with timely rains,” says Ramage, who farms with his son Michael.

He says another factor was spraying boll opener early in October, waiting two weeks, and then promptly getting the cotton out of the field.

“Our spray worked tremendously well. Every bit of it opened up,” he says. He also sprayed 40 ounces of Prep and 1.5 ounces of ET per acre on his cotton. “We started stripping and never quit. Getting it out as quickly as possible adds a lot of boll weight versus letting the cotton dry out sitting in the field for days.”

In Hale County, Steven Rose and his wife Shelli and their two daughters will celebrate the best yield in Steven’s 26-year farming career. His 958 Liberty Link cotton made 3.7 bales to the acre.

“This is the most I’ve ever made. I’ve never even come close to this,” Rose says. ”The September weather is what did it. In August we had rain and September was hot and dry.”

In 2004, that same 73-acre farm yielded a little less than 2 bales per acre. “I really didn’t do anything differently,” says Rose, whose cotton went in the loan at 55.65 cents. “I did have another well drilled and had more water this year, so that helped a lot.”

Rose’s cottonseed from his “best-ever” crop also will add to his income this season. He gins with Olton CO-OP Gin and received $110 per ton for cottonseed.

Rose is about half through harvest, and Olton CO-OP Gin is 30 days from calling it a season.

“I’m guessing we’ll gin anywhere from 88,000 to 90,000 bales this year. We’ve already ginned more than 50,000 bales but we have about 900 modules on the yard and 2,100 modules out in the field,” said Breedlove. “The gin is running really well. We’re ginning about 150 modules or 1,350 to 1,550 bales per day. And the waiting period, from when a producer turns in his cotton to when it is ginned, is less than three weeks.

“So, if the weather continues to be as nice as it has been, we’ll have this crop out in no time.”