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Rainfall in recent weeks has turned cotton prospects from horrible to hopeful across most of the Southwest, but increased moisture also exposed growers to other challenges—storm damage, plant disease and weed pressure
Shane McLellan, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for McLennan County inspects cotton on the Stiles Farm during last week’s annual field day. Cotton in the Blacklands has overcome a slow start and shows promise of making a decent crop, say Extension observers.
Mixed conditions across High Plains
Mary Jane Buerkle, director of communications and public affairs, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., in Lubbock, says conditions across the High Plains remain somewhat mixed.
“The rainfall, for most of our area, certainly has boosted our soil profile, and long-term we definitely are in better shape than we have been in the past three years. We indeed are grateful for the precipitation, and it is refreshing to finally see what seems to be a change in our weather pattern.”
She agrees with Siders that rain comes with a few “short-term problems including seedling disease. We also have had total crop destruction in many areas from hail and high winds. It’s challenging to say which areas have been hit the hardest, because we’ve received reports from several counties in our service area. Some growers to the south have a little time to replant cotton, but most [growers] likely will plant a secondary crop such as sorghum or late corn.”
It’s a late crop. “Many waited until later to plant, and then it started raining. We also have had cooler temperatures, which have not allowed for accumulation of heat units, causing a delay in the plant’s development.”
But the area was in dire need of soaking rains. “All that being said, this moisture certainly is beneficial and we have many bright spots across our service area,” Buerkle says. “We have a dryland crop that at least has a chance for the first time since 2010, and the rainfall has relieved the pressure on area wells in irrigated fields.
“I can say with certainty that we remain optimistic about the 2014 crop.