Early cotton in the Kansas and northern Oklahoma area is in a lot better shape this year compared to the unpredictable planting weather of 2008, according to Dick Cooper, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association marketing specialist at Liberal, Kan..

"We planted 50,000 acres of cotton in the area covering Kansas and northern Oklahoma, which represents a 20 percent increase over last year,” Cooper said. “The crop was all planted in the last two weeks of May following several weeks of rain in the eastern areas of the region. Other than hail damage in southwest Kansas on about 2,000 acres the week of June 8, the crop is progressing very well.

"The entire area has a full moisture profile and is wetter than we would like in the eastern areas. New cotton stands are very good in most areas, but were reduced in areas receiving hail in the Southwest.

“We have had heavier than normal thrips pressure and some growers have had to spray. Overall, we are pleased with where we are at this point and we are looking forward to high 90 degree temperatures for the coming week,” Cooper said.

SKIN CANCER and its warning signs is something all of us who are involved in agriculture should be aware of in order to protect ourselves.

As a service of the SW Ag Center, Tyler, Texas, and the Oklahoma Cotton Council, we urge you to keep this information on hand.

Most skin cancers can be treated successfully if caught early. Look for areas of skin (lesions) that fail to heal completely within 30 days. The most deadly form of skin cancer is malignant melanoma.

Remembering the signs of malignant melanoma is as easy as A, B, C, D and E.

• A stands for "asymmetry" where the sides of the lesion don't match.

• B stands for "borders" which are irregular and jagged.

• C stands for "color" which can be pink, brown, red and black. The colors are mottled in appearance and not uniform.

• D stands for "diameter" with anything large than six millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser) considered suspicious.

• E stands for "elevation." A skin lesion that is elevated, in combination with any other skin cancer sign, is suspicious.

Check yourself regularly for any of the signs mentioned above. Use a mirror to check your back or have someone else check it for you. If you notice any signs of skin cancer, make an appointment to see your family doctor right away. Early detection and treatment of skin cancers provides a 95 percent success rate. This success rate falls dramatically once the cancer begins to spread. With the pressures of outdoor agriculture activities, farmers and ranchers sometimes don't place enough priority on preventing skin cancer.

Just remember:

• Skin cancer is preventable.

• Skin cancer can be fatal.

• You are at risk.

Added resources are http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/ and www.skincancer.org.

This information has been provided by Marie Reed, a registered nurse with the Texas Department of State Health Services. She has a longtime passion for agricultural safety and health. If you have questions about the topic, contact marie.reed@dshs.state.tx.us.

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 okiecotton.org and ntokcotton.org. For questions or comments on Talkin' Cotton, contact eventerprise1@hughes.net.