The Texas cotton crop is “all over the board,” according to Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service statewide cotton specialist, College Station.
Morgan briefly summed up the situation, starting in South Texas.
The Rio Grande Valley has wrapped up its irrigated cotton harvest, he said. The Coastal Bend area finished quite some time ago, with most fields either showing very low yields or being disastered-out by crop insurance adjusters.
“As you move up the coast, into Victoria and the upper Gulf Coast region – Wharton, El Campo and Colorado County areas – things are actually looking very good,” Morgan said. “We harvested some cotton variety trials down there, and a lot was pushing two-and-a-half to a little over three bales per acre.”
North into the Brazos Valley, the cotton harvest just started last week, but Morgan expected yields on both dryland and irrigated cotton to be very good.
“And I’ve heard similar reports from the Uvalde area on irrigated land,” he said.
In the Blacklands, the harvest was nearly over, with yields varying greatly depending on rainfall, ranging from a little more than a bale to as much as two bales per acre.
“Of course, most of that is dryland cotton,” he said. “But guys in the northern Blacklands were pleasantly surprised by some of their yields. In the southern Blacklands, you’re looking at about a bale (per acre) on a lot of fields.”
The Rolling Plains has been suffering from a substantial drought most of the season, which has hammered both dryland and irrigated cotton production, Morgan said.
“Scattered showers have helped some of the dryland cotton keep going, but mainly it’s helped some of the irrigated guys by supplementing irrigation,” he said. “I heard some late-planted cotton in the Rolling Plains is doing okay because it caught some timely rains in the last 30 days. But the earlier-planted cotton pretty much burned up before the rains came.
“Late-planted irrigated cotton that got some of those rains may make average yields, but it’s going to be far from a bumper crop.”
In the High Plains and South Plains, it’s again a “mixed bag,” Morgan said. Dryland cotton is lost, but the recent rains helped supplement irrigation there too.
“There have been some areas where scattered showers fell and dryland cotton looked decent, but as a whole, they continued to suffer from the long-term drought,” he said.
It’s too early to make estimates for the total Texas cotton crop, but simply because so much of the state’s cotton is usually grown in the Southern Plains and Rolling Plains, it will certainly be a below-normal year, Morgan noted.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.