Late planting, abundant rainfall and a bumper cotton crop is being credited for an extended deadline—until Oct. 15.—for cotton stalk destruction in Jackson and Matagorda counties and a portion of Wharton County west of the Colorado River in the Upper Texas Coast.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) cites Section 20.22 of the Texas Administrative Code, which provides that the department may grant a blanket extension of the destruction deadline covering an entire cotton stalk destruction zone or a portion of an entire zone under certain circumstances.

On or about Oct. 3 an extension request was filed with the TDA requesting the extended deadline for Pest Management Zone 3, Area 1, because of late season planting and “exceptional fall rainfall” that boosted rainfall accumulation between 150-300 percent over normal.

“This was one of those extraordinary years when an exceptional string of circumstances justified an extension. To begin with, many traditional rice growers who were facing water restrictions from the Lower Colorado River Authority because of low lake levels in Central Texas turned to cotton as an alternative crop, and the cotton crop was late getting into the ground,” said Clyde Crumley, Texas AgriLife extension integrated pest management specialist for the three county area.

“Add to that a remarkably wet summer and fall season. (Wet weather) in the fall, especially, delayed harvest. But on top of these contributing factors has been the lack of pest problems this year. Boll weevil traps have been empty across the region and few pest problems of any kind have been a factor, so we are seeing very large yields, and all added together this means we are slow getting the crop out of the ground,” he added.

Crumley says harvest is still underway in parts of the region and harvest may not be complete by the time the Oct. 15 extension expires. But so far he has not heard whether an additional extension might be requested by the local Cotton Producers Advisory Committee (CPAC).

In an email of notification to Zone 3, Area 1 producers, TDA program specialist Dr. Robert Crocker acknowledged a request for extension had been received from the Chair of the Zone 3 CPAC. Crocker indicated that the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF) commented on the request for extension and that in their opinion there was negligible risk in granting the request. Crocker said that group claims “the Upper Coastal Bend zone has inspected 47,209 boll weevil traps year-to-date in Pest Management zones 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 [and] no weevils have been caught this year and none were captured in 2011.

“After having considered all known relevant information, the request for a blanket extension until October 15 of the 2012 destruction deadline for Zone 3, Area 1, is hereby granted,” Crocker said.

In other areas of Zone 3, Crumley indicates harvesting continues but says stalk destruction extensions have not yet become an issue because deadlines fall later than in Area 1.

Area 2 includes Austin, Brazoria, and Fort Bend counties and that portion of Wharton County east of the Colorado River. The standard deadline for cotton stalk destruction in Zone 3, Area 2 is October 15.

Area 3 includes Chambers, Colorado, Fayette, Galveston, Gonzales, Harris, Jefferson, Lavaca, Liberty, Orange, Waller, and Washington counties. The standard deadline for cotton stalk destruction in Zone 3, Area 3 is October 20.

Crumley says that cotton producers in Area 1 who can not meet the Oct. 15 extension deadline can request an individual extension by visiting the Texas Department of Agriculture Web site.