Much-needed rains fell across the High Plains last week, giving irrigated producers a brief reprieve from the last stages of watering and everyone a morale boost. 

As of 10 a.m. Friday, the preceding 72-hour precipitation totals showed that the most rain fell to the southwest of Lubbock. In Denver City, 2.2 inches fell, and gauges recorded 1.37 inches in Plains, 1.32 inches in Seminole and 1.3 in Seagraves. At the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, almost three-quarters of an inch of rain had fallen from Wednesday through 10 a.m. Friday. 

Although producers certainly appreciated the moisture, it will have little to no impact on finishing out the 2011 High Plains cotton crop as yield potential already has been set. Bolls are open in most fields, but those bolls are smaller than usual. Growers are applying defoliant in preparation for what will likely be a brief but quick-moving harvest season.

To assist area producers with harvest aid decisions, Texas AgriLife Extension's 2011 Harvest Aid Guide is available at http://lubbock.tamu.edu.  

According to the most recent Farm Service Agency data, more than 2.5 million of the 4.5 million acres of cotton planted in the PCG service area this year have failed, bumping the official abandonment rate up to 56 percent. That number still is likely to rise. 

The other part of this growing season many would like to forget was the oppressive heat over the past four months. Heat units in Lubbock were 33.4 percent above normal from May 1 through July 31 of this year, and 24.9 percent above normal from August 1 through September 14. Based on the accumulation of heat units alone, the cotton crop in the Lubbock area would have finished out around August 10. 

"It's an understatement to say this has been a tough growing season, but we look forward to getting harvest under way and moving on to what hopefully will be a wetter 2012," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said.

"COTTON NEWS" from Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.