Crop prospects across the U.S. cotton belt range from fairly awful to potentially phenomenal, depending on weather patterns so far. And weather has touched the extremes—too much rain in South Texas and too little in parts of Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas.
Representatives from each cotton producing state offered a brief update on crop conditions early this week during the American Cotton Producers/Cotton Foundation summer meeting in Lubbock.
Alabama reports indicated an excellent crop a month ago, but a month of heat and drought has taken a toll. Current conditions are only 31 percent good and 65 percent in the fair to poor range. Some spots, observers said, are ruined but some producers will make a decent cotton crop. Overall, it’s not good.
The Arkansas crop also has withered under hot, dry conditions this summer and insect problems have added to crop expenses. Observers said the dryland crop is not good but irrigated acreage looks better.
Arizona’s crop started off behind but caught up with plenty of summer heat units. State observers expect the crop to be good with some pockets of excellent cotton. Harvest has begun in some areas.
USDA estimates peg California cotton yield potential at 1465 pounds per acre for upland cotton and 1190 pounds for Pima. Producers think the upland estimate is a bit high, officials said. California started out with cold weather and early lygus and plant bug problems.
Western Florida Panhandle cotton has had a fair amount of rain but in the east, dryland cotton has about burned up under hot, dry conditions.
Georgia’s crop started out well but high heat and humidity the last six weeks took a toll. Observers anticipate the estimated 902 pounds per acre yield estimate will drop to 852 in the next report.
Kansas cotton also started out strong with some plant bug trouble early on. Rainfall, as much as 2.5 inches every ten days or so limited heat stress.
Analysts in Louisiana said if they harvest a crop at all they will be ahead of the last two years when hurricanes wiped them out. But heat is currently affecting the crop. About one-third has been defoliated and dryland acreage is drought stressed.
Mississippi cotton farmers are beginning to defoliate dryland cotton, which is rated not good. Pivot and furrow irrigated cotton is faring much better.
Missouri cotton benefitted from good April rainfall and observers said the first 40 days were “textbook conditions.” Farmers had to hustle to get fertilizer out. Potential is phenomenal according to Delta Farm Press, they said
Some drought pockets may affect overall yield but Missouri has a good opportunity for a bumper crop.
New Mexico cotton got off to a slow start but has caught up and the crop looks good.
North Carolina is a mixed bag with most looking pretty good but less rain further south causing some concern. Producers are hoping for an average crop in the Northeast part of the state.
Oklahoma expects an average crop, not as good as last year’s record setter and probably not as good as early expectations because of recent heat and drought. Observers expect to see some two-bale dryland cotton.
South Carolina cotton farmers increased acreage by 50 percent this year and expect an average crop. Production depends on which areas got rain at the right time. The crop is ahead by about two weeks and has plenty of heat units.
Tennessee prospects of 887 pounds per acre likely will decrease because of 100-degree temperatures. West Tennessee cotton looked good most of the season but heat in August took what was expected to be an above average crop down to average.
Texas likely will harvest 5.5 million acres of cotton and produce 8.8 million bales. Estimated average yield is 760 pounds per acre. High Plains producers planted 3.7 million acres and have only 3.6 percent abandonment so far, one of the lowest ratings ever.
High Plains production could push 6 million bales. The crop got off to a good start with plenty of spring rains but slowed a bit with heavy rainfall in early July. Observers say the crop caught up in August with high temperatures that are stressing cotton, especially dryland acreage. Overall, the High Plains crop is doing well.
Not so much in South Texas where heavy rainfall from Hurricane Alex and other storms affected yield potential. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is about half through harvest, a bit later than usual and yields are not as good as growers expected following a promising start.
The Upper coastal Bend may be in worse shape with the bottom crop hit by boll rot. Farmers are trying to make a late top crop.
The Texas Rolling Plains has been hammered by hot, dry conditions and expectations of another week of 100 degree temperatures. Observers say the dryland crop is burned up and farmers with irrigation are struggling to keep up as water levels decline.
Virginia cotton producers have had no significant rain since early June and most of the crop is in poor condition. Observers expect average yield to be 650 pounds per acre to 700 pounds per acre, a disappointing yield for Virginia cotton farmers.