What is in this article?:
- Rainfall brings hope to West Texas cotton producers
- Timely rains on the plains
- Recent rainfall provides planting moisture for High Plains cotton.
- Producers will need in-season rainfall to make the crop.
- Early rain may decrease pressure on irrigation systems.
Cotton planting is underway in the Southwest.
Timely rains on the plains
The High Plains received timely rainfall in the last few days, according to reports from Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Mary Jane Buerkle, director of communications and public affairs, says some areas averaged about 1.2 inches. “We also heard from a grower in Parmer County who reported about 2 inches. Southern portions of the PCG area (Dawson, Gaines, and Yoakum Counties) report up to 3 inches,” she says.
“West Texas Mesonet reports 2.39 inches (early this week) in Hereford with Slaton and Dimmitt at 1.8 inches. Overall, the rain is very welcome and obviously much-needed, but there are still some areas that need moisture—places that just missed out on these recent rains, particularly the eastern portions of our service area.”
Buerkle says farmers have not planted a lot of cotton in Lubbock County yet—about 10 percent—but “we are seeing activity, especially to the north. The Extension agent in Parmer County reported cotton at 65 percent planted. I know of several growers who are trying to get back into the field (following the rain), and others are having to wait to dry out a little. With a warm-up forecast this week, I think we'll see a significant uptick in planting activity over the next several days.”
Across the state, “overall the cotton looks quite good,” says Texas AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist Gaylon Morgan.
“I recently traveled from College Station through the Upper Gulf Coast, Coastal Bend, and to the Rio Grande Valley.” He says quite a few acres between Corpus Christi and Bishop “were in a world of hurt; however, they received from 2 to 4 inches of rain since last week. The cotton was young enough that the rain will definitely help out and will go a long way to making a cotton crop.
“Of the cotton I have observed and from communications with folks, I would consider most of the cotton in South and Central Texas to be in good condition and with favorable outlook for the next few weeks,” Morgan says. “In the Rolling Plains, the North Rolling Plains (North of Abilene) area remains quite dry, but the other portions of the Rolling Plains appear to be in decent condition for planting. In the Southern High Plains, recent rains consisted of scattered showers with some of the major cotton acres (Central High Plains) missing the large rainfall events. Rains in the Northern High Plains were also scattered, and much of the region missed the May rainfall.”
The May 7-13 USDA-NASS Texas planting progress summary shows about 35 percent of the cotton crop planted, up from 33 percent this time in 2011 and 4 percent above the 5 year average for the same week.
“I think the NASS estimates are optimistic on the percent planted,” he says. “All of South Texas is planted, but the Rolling Plains and High Plains were just getting started before the rain. Now, planting will be delayed a few days or more because of the rain and wet soils.”
Farmers may work “twenty-four/seven after the soil dries enough to plant in the Rolling Plains and High Plains.”
In Oklahoma, Jerry Goodson, Extension assistant at the Oklahoma State University S.W. Research & Extension Center in Altus, says cotton is about 25 percent planted statewide. “That’s our best guess.
“Some areas have excellent moisture, while in other areas moisture is already marginal. Final planting dates for southwest Oklahoma counties are June 20, so hopefully we will get it done by then.”
Goodson says doublecrop cotton will be a gamble. “The wildcard is going be moisture in double-crop cotton following a very early wheat harvest. Rainfall will be the key.”