The final planting date has come and gone for most of the PCG service area, and the lack of rain will soon force some producers to make some tough decisions.
AgriLife Extension agents reporting at PCG's Advisory Group meeting today said that in general, about 80 percent of the irrigated crop has emerged, although it is suffering from the seemingly relentless hot wind and sand. Most of that cotton is in fair condition for now, they said.
Those who have planted in a cover crop are seeing some benefit as their cotton is at least somewhat protected from the wind and sand.
As for the dryland crop, it's still a waiting game. With no significant rainfall in sight, projections are that High Plains producers could abandon about two million acres, almost half of the total crop for this area. Experts note that a 100 percent abandonment rate for dryland cotton has never happened on the High Plains, but this could be the year.
Cotton that has emerged looks to be behind in development and facing pressure from spider mites. In addition, if the area doesn't get rainfall soon, irrigated producers will begin battling water availability issues, which could jeopardize what crop they do have.
In last week's Cotton News, PCG staffer Shawn Wade discussed how PCG is working with the Risk Management Agency to address insurance issues related to dryland cotton planted into a terminated small grain cover crop such as wheat under a conservation tillage practice. Drought conditions such as the High Plains is experiencing make it difficult to terminate these small grain crops before heading, but the lack of complete termination could make the field uninsurable.
PCG has asked the RMA to clarify a number of issues regarding small grain crops and the insurability of non-irrigated cotton. PCG staff continues to work on these issues to provide relief for producers in what is already an extremely tough year.
What could be the most disheartening of all, though, is that the drought likely will cause many producers not to be able to reap the benefits of some of the highest cotton prices in their lifetime. As one area producer put it, "This two-dollar cotton sure is a lot harder to raise than that 60-cent cotton."