"The crop is made. Short of a weather disaster, such as a hurricane or flooding, the crop in Texas should approximate 4.8 million bales, up from last year's 4.3 million bales," said Jose Peña, Extension economist in Uvalde.

Texas leads the nation in cotton production, producing 25 percent to 30 percent of the 15 million to 20 million bales produced annually in the United States, he said. The South Plains produces 80 percent of the cotton in Texas.

This year's cotton crop in Texas is making excellent progress, Peña said. About 65 percent of the crop is rated normal and on schedule, compared to only 47 percent of the crop a year ago at this same time. In Texas, 5.8 million acres were planted this spring, a 3 percent decrease from last year's 6 million acres, he said. Carl Anderson, Extension economist in College Station, said cotton producers planted fewer acres because of low cotton prices last year. In mid-August, Texas cotton prices received by producers averaged 31 cents per pound, an increase from last year's 28 cents per pound.

Even though Texas lost 1.2 million of the planted acres to dry weather and hail storms, 4.6 million acres of the 5.8 million acres planted are expected to be harvested, he said.

Peña said that is an 8.25 percent increase from last year's 4.2 million acres.

South Texas lost about half the crop to drought, Anderson said. The harvest is progressing well in the Coastal Bend region and Brazos Valley. The harvest is in full momentum in the region south of Austin, Peña said. The crop is at various stages of maturity from Austin to Lubbock. The first bale was harvested and delivered for auction in Harlingen on June 15 by Lorenzo and George Rodriguez of Rodriguez Farms in Santa Rosa, he said.

Now, almost one-half of the counties in South Texas have baled their first bale, Peña said. Even though about 56 percent of the crop is considered mature, only about 19 percent has been harvested.

Anderson said the South Plains needs one more month of dry, sunny weather to mature to full potential and six more weeks for harvest. Ideally, harvest should be finished by Thanksgiving.

Peña said yields are estimated at an average of 501 pounds per acre, which is a 20-pound increase from an average of 481 pounds per acre produced in 2001.

"Rains in early September were very beneficial for fall and winter production in South-Central Texas," he said. "On the other hand, the rains caught the southwest Winter Garden region in the middle of harvesting a very good cotton crop and delayed the harvest, and will cause some grade and yield degradation damage. After a relatively dry spring, mid-summer rains in the High Plains provided an excellent weather environment for cotton production. Last year's severe drought had a very adverse effect on average yields and acres harvested."

Anderson said the best weather conditions for cotton are warm, sunny days with good soil moisture.

The current dry weather has been ideal for harvest, he said. Plant diseases and insects have done little damage this year.

"Because of an abundant world cotton supply and subsequent low market price that is about half the cost of producing cotton, producers are highly dependent on the income safety net provided in the new Farm Bill," Anderson said.

Bob Robinson, district Extension director in Amarillo, said cotton is rated fair to good; a few fields are reported excellent. The rains delayed the defoliation effort, and bolls continue to open.

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

PANHANDLE: soil moisture is very short to surplus. Corn harvest has been begun with very good yields. Sorghum is almost completely headed. Peanuts are in good condition; harvest of irrigated peanuts is under way. Wheat planting is half complete; fall and beet armyworms continue to cause stand losses. Range conditions are fair. Cattle are in good condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: soil moisture is short to adequate. Range and pasture conditions are poor to fair. Some livestock supplemental feeding has begun. Cotton is fair to good. Corn and sorghum harvest continues. Peanut harvest is starting. Sunflower harvest is soon to be in full swing. Winter wheat planting continues.

ROLLING PLAINS: soil moisture is short. Fall field preparations and wheat planting are in high gear to take advantage of the limited rainfall. Some wheat has already emerged. Peanut harvest will begin soon; peanuts are rated fair to good. Grain sorghum harvest is half complete with good yields. Livestock are in good condition because of better-than-average pasture conditions.

NORTH TEXAS: soil moisture is short to surplus. Cotton is fair to excellent. Peanuts are fair to good. Range and pastures are fair to good. Corn, soybean and sorghum harvests are nearing completion. Cotton, rice and peanut harvest has begun. Wheat and oat planting have begun. Livestock and pastures are doing very well. Winter pasture planting is in full swing. Sweet potato harvest continues with best yields in years and good quality.

EAST TEXAS: soil moisture is short. Warm season forages are in good condition. Winter pasture preparations are under way. Cattle conditions are good. Peanuts good. Sweet potato harvests continue with good yields.

FAR WEST TEXAS: soil moisture is short to surplus. More rain needed to help drought conditions. Very little dryland cotton will be harvested. Supplemental feeding continues.

WEST CENTRAL TEXAS: soil moisture is adequate. Wheat planting has been delayed because of fear of grasshopper damage. Volunteer wheat is emerging. Fall planting field preparations and hay bailing continues. Armyworms are becoming a problem. Pasture and range conditions remain poor. Livestock are in good condition; supplemental feeding continues.

CENTRAL TEXAS: soil moisture is short. Peanut harvest has begun. Cotton yields are better than expected. Wheat and oat planting are under way.

SOUTHEAST TEXAS: soil moisture is short. Rain has hurt the first rice crop, pastures are flooded and annual hay fields have taken a turn for the worst. Producers are ready to begin cool season annual planting. Rain has benefited watermelons but may cause diseases.

SOUTHWEST TEXAS: soil moisture is adequate. Forage availability is above average. Hunting activities begin to dominate ranch activities. Cotton harvest continues with excellent yields. Planting resumed for fall spinach, cabbage, carrots and spring onions. Green beans have been planted and are making good progress. High incidence of culls and disease damage is reported. Peanut harvest is gaining momentum. Small grain planting is beginning.

COASTAL BEND: soil moisture is surplus. Late replanting of some sorghum and cotton remain unharvested. Hay fields need to dry up to be harvested. Weed pressure is elevated. Second rice crop looks good. Livestock are in excellent condition.

SOUTH TEXAS: soil moisture is adequate. Recent rains helped pastures and range conditions. Forage availability improved. Fall planting preparations continue. e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com