As we begin harvesting cotton here in the Coastal Bend, reports on the state-wide cotton situation indicate we could be looking at a record cotton crop in Texas this year.

Projections for total Texas cotton crop are around 9.5 million bales, with dryland yields in the 1.5 to 2 bales per acre range. This is about what I expect to see locally. The overall good yield projections can be attributed to above normal soil moisture conditions, improved cotton varieties, and success of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.

Most gins have module storage areas that facilitate all-weather access to modules for processing. The module storage system has decoupled ginning from harvesting, providing an economical and safe method of handling and storing seed cotton.

Safe storage of moduled seed cotton requires good defoliation and/or desiccation prior to harvest. Good defoliation can be difficult, as we saw with our local test this year, especially when it rains a few hours after defoliation treatments are applied. Excess green vegetative material and late-season regrowth can contribute to high levels of trash and excessive moisture content (greater than 12 percent) of seed cotton in the module. High moisture content causes modules to heat and increases the frequency of light-spot (or lower) grades and reduces seed quality.

The old standard modules vary in height and weight but they typically contain 14 to 16 bales of picked cotton (in picker harvested modules) or 10 to 14 bales of stripped cotton (in stripper harvested modules).

The optimum number of harvesters per module builder depends on crop yield, row length, and operator proficiency. Too many harvesters per module builder can result in inefficiency caused by the inability of the module builders to keep up. Too few harvesters results in underutilization of the module builders.

Now all we need is for the weather to cooperate with a dry period so that we can get our cotton crop harvested in a timely manner and take the lint to the gin.