Better prices and greater demand for cotton caused farmers to plant more acres this year.

Craig Bolton, manager of the Tri-County Gin east of Chattanooga, Okla., is a case in point. He and his crew are busy installing a new dryer in the gin. Bolton says his clients have planted more than 30,000 acres of cotton and the crop is looking good.

"We anticipate ginning 23,000 to 24,000 bales this year," he said. This in contrast to the 8,300 bales he ginned in 2009 from 12,000 acres planted that year. The last big year for the gin was in 2005 when Bolton ginned 27,000 bales.

Bolton's clients farm in Tillman, Cotton and Comanche counties.

A few miles south of the Tri-County facility at Grandfield, JoAnn Rollins, manager of the Farmers Cooperative Gin Co., looks for a normal ginning.

"Our crop is looking really good," she said. "We have approximately 5,000 to 6,000 acres planted this year."

Farmers are taking cotton to the Grandfield gin farm in both Tillman and Cotton counties, she said.

CRP

Conservation reserve programs are critical for Oklahoma soil conservation. Francie Tolle, executive director of the Oklahoma Farm Service Agency, emphasizes the importance that landowners take advantage of the Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up, which began Aug. 2 and continues through Aug. 27, 2010. Farmers and ranchers interested in offering land under the competitive general signup are encouraged to contact their local FSA office, Tolle said.

Tolle says that for more than 25 years, CRP has been USDA's most important and successful conservation program, protecting water quality, reducing erosion and creating habitat for a diverse group of wildlife. Currently, Oklahoma has 861,000 acres under contract in the CRP. On Sept. 30, 2010, 211,000 acres of CRP contracts will expire, Tolle said. "Oklahoma needs a strong enrollment during this program period to maintain the environmental benefits we have built in past years," Tolle said.

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 comments or questions about Talkin' Cotton, contact eventerprise1@hughes.net.