Dick Cooper, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association marketing representative, Liberal, Kansas, says cotton harvest is making progress.

“This year’s crop is progressing very well for growers and gins,” Cooper said. “We have about a third of the crop ginned and somewhat over 75 percent stripped. Harvesting weather has been ideal; open cotton has not had any weather that will affect quality to this point. Our original leaf drop was slow, but once we had a killing freeze, harvesting has maintained a good pace and will be complete in two to three weeks.”

Yield and grades should be good.

“Early indications of good yields and high quality are proving to be true. Statewide, our irrigated yields are averaging slightly over two bales per acre with a few growers reporting yields over three bales. Dryland yields in most areas are around 600 pounds with the exception of a small area in Sumner County that did not get an August rain. Yields in this area are just under a bale per acre

“Our biggest bragging point on this crop is quality. Growing and harvesting conditions has been nearly ideal once we finally got it going this spring and this always helps quality. However, the introduction of new Flex genetics in new varieties that were planted on most of our acres in Kansas has proven beneficial to the overall economic picture for cotton in this area. It appears we are going to gain over 300 points in quality over our previous year’s grades, mostly due to longer staple and premium micronaire and strength. That is over $15 per acre for our dryland growers and over $30 for irrigated that goes right to the bottom line. Our grades are still lower on average than Southwest Oklahoma and West Texas, but we are definitely narrowing the gap.”

Cooper says acreage could increase in 2008.

“It is very early to be making predictions about the 2008 crop, but in meeting with growers over the past few weeks, it appears that cotton acreage could make a significant comeback next year. Fertilizer and fuel input costs for irrigated corn in areas with weaker wells have them looking at cotton again. A lot will depend on cotton’s ability to compete with the grain complex on price at planting time next spring. Cotton prices have made a pretty good run over the past few months and growers will be watching spring conditions closely. It is not often in agriculture when most of the options farmers have are good if growing conditions allow you to grow a crop.”

This cotton season reminds me of an ice cream commercial that ran a year or two ago,” says J.C. Banks, Oklahoma State University Ag Extension state cotton specialist at Altus.

“It was about a farmer that had all sorts of disasters or near disasters during the day, and the last frames showed him eating a bowl of ice cream.

“His wife came in and asked how was his day and he replied, ‘well, it ended up good.’”

This cotton season started with most producers delaying planting to wait on planting moisture, Banks says. “When the rains came, many areas had too much rainfall causing water logging on some soils. This caused a shallow root system that was sensitive to stress. This stress further delayed the crop, and we knew we had to have a good warm fall to mature the crop. Well, it ended up good.

“Our late conditions have been good, and it looks like we may have a record per acre yield for Oklahoma. We have just finished ginning plot samples from replicated variety tests and we have some preliminary data together. Fiber samples have been sent to the Texas Tech Fiber Labs at Lubbock and we will complete the reports when fiber quality results get back.

“We have five irrigated variety tests with 16 varieties evaluated in each test. Some of the top performing varieties are Fibermax 1740 B2F, Deltapine 143 B2F, Phytogen 485 WRF, Fibermax 9180 B2F, Fibermax 9063 B2F and Stoneville 4554 B2F.

“We have harvested six replicated dryland tests, each containing 25 varieties. Some top performing dryland varieties have been Deltapine 174 F, FiberMax 958 F, FiberMax 1740 B2F, AFD 5064 F, FiberMax 9068 F and FiberMax 9180 B2F.”

“When we get fiber quality data back, this information will be part of our OSU Cotton Demonstrations in Oklahoma booklet.

“This project is funded primarily by Cotton Incorporated State Support Funds and by the OSU Integrated Pest Management Program. Results, when available, will be posted on the NTOKCotton.org. and OkieCotton.org web sites. Booklets will be sent to gins and OSU County Extension offices in cotton producing areas.”

TALKIN’ COTTON is a feature of NTOK Cotton, a cotton industry partnership, which encourages increased cotton production in the Rolling Plains of North Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. For more information on the cotton scene, check out okiecotton.org and ntokcotton.org. For comments or questions about Talkin’ Cotton, contact us at eventerprises@hughes.net.