"Irrigation made the difference this year," says Jeannie Hileman, manager of the Farmers Coop Gin, Carnegie, Okla.

"Our customers planted nearly 30,000 acres of cotton, but we will only harvest about 12,000 acres. All of the dryland cotton failed to make a crop. We had hoped to gin more than 20,000 bales this year, but now we will be short of that total."

Caddo County had more soil moisture from early rains than just about any other part of the cotton-growing area in Oklahoma, she said. This, coupled with many farmers using pivot irrigation systems to water their crops, enabled some to grow cotton and corn, she said.

"Most of the pivots in this area cover 120 acres," she said. "This acreage makes up a quarter section of farmland. When you take away the corners of the quarter section, you have 120 acres under one center pivot system. Many farmers planted 60 acres of corn and 60 acres of cotton under a pivot. When the corn began to dry down and mature, the farmers concentrated on watering the cotton for the rest of the season. This helped us to keep a lot of the cotton going this year."

Hileman's gin had ginned 400 bales then had to shut down for a few days due to a 2.7 inch rain in early October. Wet ground was keeping farmers from harvesting the cotton. "We know we are in a bad drought," she said. "But Oklahoma's weather always keeps us guessing."

TALKIN' COTTON is produced by NTOK Cotton, a cotton industry partnership which supports and encourages increased cotton production in the Rolling Plains of North Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. For more information on the cotton scene, see ntokcotton.org and okiecotton.org. For questions or comments on Talkin' Cotton, contact bustersbarn1@yahoo.com.