Cotton strippers in the Rolling Plains, South Plains and Panhandle went into high gear as dry, open weather made for ideal harvest conditions, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

"The cotton harvest has been progressing very nicely, especially since the Oct. 21 event -- where we got both rain and hail," said Dr. Randy Boman, AgriLife Extension cotton agronomist for the South Plains region. "Abilene has classed about 600,000 bales; Lamesa, 350,000, and Lubbock, 1.2 million bales," Boman said.

"If we add up those numbers, just for Lamesa and Lubbock -- just for the High Plains (of Texas) -- we're sitting about 1.5 million bales classed at this time," he said.

These 1.5 million bales represent about 25 percent of the High Plains expected total harvest, Boman said. However, one has to keep in mind that harvested cotton is not classed until it is taken to the gin, and that much harvested cotton is in the fields, stored in modules, what's generally just termed as "off-the-stalk" rather than "harvested."

From AgriLife Extension agent reports, Boman said that as little as 25 percent of the cotton in some counties has been harvest, while others range from 35 percent to 50 percent.

Harvest halfway through

"I suspect that, in this area, we have some counties that are as much as 75 percent harvested," he said.

The quality of the cotton has been good, Boman said, and improving as less dryland cotton goes to the gins and more irrigated cotton arrives.

"Taking a look at the Lamesa numbers, it looks like they're averaging somewhere around a 35.3 staple or so, with a micronaire in the neighborhood 4.4," Boman said. "At Lubbock, we're trending up every day. I think we're having more irrigated cotton coming in there. It appears we're going to be bumping about 36 staple, our micronaire is a little bit lower at 4.0.

"On bark contamination, we are looking pretty low, certainly lower than last year; 7.3 percent for Lamesa and 7.5 percent or so for Lubbock," he said.

Boman said a forecast of high winds late Nov. 9, and for rain before the end of the week, may shut the harvest down for a while.

rd-burns@tamu.edu