Every year is different in crop production and some stand out above others. 2009 may not be remembered as a bad crop year, but it will be remembered as one with differing expectations throughout the year. This year’s cotton crop was planted later than normal due to wetter weather in some areas and dry weather in other areas. Timely rains started in mid-summer, resulting in higher expectations and a good looking crop during boll set.
Late maturity for much of the crop resulted in later defoliation, and higher-than-normal rainfall in October delayed picking as well as weather fronts in November. New cotton varieties that have performed well in the past couple of years did not do as well as other newer varieties in many cases. Our producers will still be searching for those varieties to replace Delta and Pine Land’s 555.
Our research has indicated that cooler weather during flowering will result in more hardlock/boll rot, and we have seen that impact this year with many producers losing 200 to 400 pounds per acre of cotton falling out in the harvesting operation. The jury is still out on the final yield for 2009, and it surely won’t be a record high-yielding year but will not be a bad year either.
Not to sound like a broken record, but the 2009 growing season in the Mid-South was the most difficult season that many can remember. Excessive rainfall early in the season delayed planting, which was followed by abnormally warm, dry weather during June.
To many, the weather conditions in June were typical of what we usually see in August. Rainfall did not return to many areas of Mississippi until mid- to late-July. High temperatures normally associated with August disappeared during the third week of that month. The return of warmer temperatures was accompanied by the beginning of two months of rainfall that dramatically delayed harvest and caused substantial yield reductions in many areas of Mississippi.
Yields across the state are highly variable depending on planting date, variety and amount of rainfall received, as well as other factors. Yields as low as 200 pounds and as high as 1,400 pounds per acre have been observed depending on locale.
The arrival of the holiday season and the subsequent new year will bring renewed enthusiasm for producers across the country. Although this season is hardly over and next planting season is several months away, increased interest in cotton in 2010 is expected. As we all know, a lot can happen between now and then; however, it appears cotton acres will increase to some degree next year.
That should be welcome news to all cotton industry leaders in our state.
Although this year has been difficult, it is important to remember all of the things that we have to be thankful for during this holiday season. Family, friends and freedom are but a few of the many things that we are blessed with. I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a prosperous 2010.
According to the Nov. 8 Crop Progress and Condition Report, cotton harvest is 33 percent complete, 29 days behind last year and 33 days behind the normal of 84 percent. Cotton condition is 15 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 53 percent good and 2 percent excellent.
This has been an unusual growing season in that we were so wet at the beginning and at the end. Prior to planting, we had water standing in many fields so planting was delayed. Most of the cotton was planted past the optimum planting date. We also had fewer heat units during most of the season. In spite of all of the adverse conditions, we were projected to have a record crop.
With the lack of rainfall during the past several weeks, harvest has accelerated. Our producers generally have more than one picker in the field so they can get this cotton out. The advantage this season has gone to the producers with the picker-module builders. Not only did they have less labor and equipment, they were able to get out of the fields faster.
After almost two full months of persistent rain, Louisiana cotton farmers were finally able to make significant progress in harvesting the 2009 crop. By Oct. 21, according to data published by LSU AgCenter Economist Kurt Guidry, the estimated value of yield and quality losses had already reached 46 percent. Then we received three to six inches of rainfall over the next 10 days, which finally let up on Nov. 1. The extensive losses included that from deteriorated bolls, boll rot, fiber quality, grade and seed quality. The amount of losses varied across fields, depending on crop maturity at the time the rains began. Some fields were completely lost and some lost “only” 20 to 40 percent of the yield.
During the next few weeks and into the winter, LSU AgCenter scientists and cotton specialists will be publishing and presenting the results of the many yield trials conducted on several of the research stations and at on-farm locations. The variety trials will be of greater importance this year because there are many new varieties to look at. The primary cotton meeting to put on your calendar will be the Northeast Louisiana Crops Forum on Jan. 21 at the Rayville Civic Center.
Unfortunately, what we will remember most about the 2009 Alabama cotton crop will be the harvest season and what could have been. Early season cotton suffered extreme yield losses due to heavy rains, causing hard-locked bolls, boll rot and seed sprouting in bolls. Cotton color grades were also poor, resulting in more price deductions. What really hurt this crop the most were those overcast days after the rains stopped.
When we did get sunny weather, the later cotton fields turned back to the white fluffy cotton we expected. I still expect the 2009 cotton crop yields in Alabama to be above average. With all we have been through the last two months, that is amazing.
Many or even most cotton producers in the San Joaquin Valley have made the choice to plant Pima cotton in addition to or in place of the Acala cotton that most of them know so well. Price differentials in favor of Pima have driven this interest, but there remain some worthwhile considerations for producers relatively new to Pima production.
A good number of Pima varieties are available, ranging from a few earlier varieties that can be managed to mature at close to Acala timing to some that are definitely much longer-season varieties. By many observations, Pima cotton typically still requires an effective growing season about one to two weeks longer than many Acalas most years.
Multiple strategies can restrict excess vegetative growth and help bring in the crop for a timely harvest. It was apparent in 2009 that many producers water-stressed plants quite hard at multiple growth stages. In many areas, this was in part due to limited irrigation water, and for some it was a strategy to promote earlier maturity and limit vegetative growth. However, there can be fiber quality issues in fields repeatedly stressed hard for water, so when field HVI results come in for 2009, producers should compare HVI results between fields based on their knowledge or records of relative levels of water stress in
Similar to other regions in the Cotton Belt, cotton harvest is progressing very slowly in Georgia primarily due to recent rainfall. This is frustrating for many producers, as Georgia is projected to harvest record yields. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, only 34 percent of Georgia cotton has been harvested as of Nov. 8, a small step forward from the 22 percent harvested the week before.
Normally, we have harvested approximately 60 percent of the acreage by now. Rains from Hurricane Ida certainly didn’t help the situation, but hopefully the next few weeks will bring some clear, dry weather to assist us through the rest of the harvest.
On another note, many Georgia cotton producers are concerned about variety selection for the upcoming season and the replacement of Deltapine 555 BG/RR. This variety has performed consistently well over the past several years in Georgia, hence its widespread adoption. Preliminary yield data from our OVT trials suggest that several varieties perform similarly, if not better, than Deltapine 555 BG/RR, which is promising news.
I would also like to say that I am very excited to be working with the UGA cotton team as the Extension cotton agronomist, and I am very appreciative of the warm welcome that I’ve received from my colleagues here – including fellow Extension cotton specialist Jared Whitaker.
The 2009 growing season is finally drawing to a close after the longest harvest that many can remember. The old saying that “a bad start leads to a good finish” proved wrong this year for most cotton-producing areas in Arkansas. The unseasonably cool, wet spring made for many points of frustration early with replant decisions made over a large portion of the early planted crop.
For the most part, the majority of cotton in Arkansas was planted at the end of the optimum window through the first week of June this year. Surprisingly, the weather during the growing season was mild with frequent rainfall that had many producers excited about making a good crop without watering every week. There is no doubt that some, if not many producers, would have made record yields on their farms if the rains had ended in August.
By now, we know the reality that the precipitation would amount up to record levels and take away the very crop that it made earlier in the year. Damage from the late-season rains equaled yield loss across all Arkansas counties that produce cotton. The damage from hardlock, boll rot and bract disintegration seemed to increase in severity from northeast to southeast Arkansas.
After visiting with many of my colleagues across the Belt, I have come to better appreciate our harvest season in Arizona. For the most part, we had an excellent fall with few weather disturbances, allowing us to harvest in a timely fashion while also keeping the high fiber quality of the crop intact. I have received reports of good yields across the state, and they will likely end up being slightly above our statewide 10-year average of 1,350 pounds of lint per acre.
The cropping season of 2009 experienced some rather strange weather trends, but these trends contributed to the higher-than- average yields. The month of June was much cooler than average across the state, and then the heat came with a vengeance. July turned extremely hot but with little monsoon activity, resulting in lower humidity levels and lower levels of heat stress commonly associated with the monsoon in July and August.
The crop was able to set a significant fruit load during this time and make up for lost heat unit accumulations during the month of June. An earlier occurring and higher incidence of verticillium wilt was experienced across Arizona in 2009. It is thought that cooler temperatures in June resulted in the higher incidence of wilt. Rising costs require a critical look at each trip across the field. Combining applications where possible along with the use of GPS-based guidance systems can help improve efficiency with respect to all cultural inputs.
Evaluate Your Cotton
This is a good time of year to see what practices might have affected the quality of your cotton crop. The two major areas one may want to consider are defoliation and variety selection. Look over your grading sheets and notice if you see any trends concerning leaf trash and which defoliants were used. Some of the new herbicidal defoliants are reasonable and effective but can cause leaf sticking that results in high leaf trash levels.
This is especially true in fields where there was a lot of juvenile growth prior to defoliation. It would be good to look at how some of the defoliants you used influenced leaf trash in the field with a good deal of juvenile growth compared to well-cut-out fields, if possible.