Missouri cotton producers have much for which to be thankful. In spite of the near record temperatures last season and one of the driest seasons in 116 years, we still managed to have a good crop. If the USDA estimate of 1,073 pounds per acre is accurate, this will be our second largest yield ever. The National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., identified the top weather stories in the Bootheel as a very cold winter, a very hot summer and a prolonged drought during 2010.
While we expect acreage to increase for the 2011 season, the two driving forces will be the price of cotton and the Palmer pigweed potential. Several producers have indicated that it will be too costly to grow more cotton; others look at the potential for a better return on their investment.
We have a very good opportunity in Missouri due to the irrigation capacity that we have in place. Producers are adding irrigation to many of their non-irrigated fields. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that all of our cotton area is still listed in the moderate, severe and extreme drought categories. While projections are expected for the drought conditions to improve, we will still be in the abnormally dry and drought categories.
Many of our producers are cautiously optimistic about this upcoming season. They realize that there will be a challenge with the resistant Palmer pigweed and other weeds, but they also know that failure is not an option.
There is more enthusiasm about agriculture in Alabama than I have seen in quite some time. Farmers are actively making decisions on which crops they will plant and the varieties they prefer. With resistant Palmer amaranth spreading into Alabama, I am getting many calls on what herbicide changes farmers will need to make in 2011.
Dr. Mike Patterson, Dr. Dale Monks and I are presently working on some quick herbicide reference guides that should help farmers in planning their resistant weed management programs in cotton, soybeans, corn and peanuts in Alabama. These one-page guides should be available in early February.
As we go into the 2011 season, producers should remember the production practices that have made them money over the years. Just because commodity prices are higher is no reason to start large scale changes. Stick with the tested practices that have gotten us to this point.
There is a lot of optimism for cotton starting into 2011. New varieties performed well, and the price of cotton has some producers planning a better rotation with more cotton after years of poor rotation. Cotton acreage is sure to increase and will help rotations with peanuts and soybeans and add yield to those crops in future years.
The big question mark for most of our producers is how well they can control Palmer amaranth and make headway on the seed bank. Producers will find a way to produce high cotton yields as they have faced many challenges in the past. We as Extension specialists appreciate the cooperation and support of industry and innovative producers and the efforts that go into solving problems as they arise. By working together, we will have another good year!
The 2010 crop year in the High Plains was quite a roller coaster ride. We had excellent sub-soil moisture thanks to ample rainfall, flooding in some counties in July, then a very hot and dry August and September across much of the region. The good news is that fiber quality was very good to excellent for most of our producers thanks to the warm, open fall. We are now anxiously waiting to see what 2011 brings to us in terms of rainfall.
With the outstanding prices out there, this is not a year to miss a dryland crop. The Texas AgriLife Research Cotton Variety Performance publication and results from Texas AgriLife Extension Service systems variety tests as well as other county trials are available at http://lubbock.tamu.edu. These publications provide a wealth of information for producers. Several trial locations across the region are included.
If producers have specific Verticillium or Fusarium wilt disease issues with which they are dealing, results from trials conducted under high disease pressure are also available. It is important for producers to consider managing individual fields based on the specific disease presence or absence and overall goals.
As usual, In my opinion, I say that cotton production is a complicated job. Just make sure that you do your homework and spend input money wisely.
This will be my last report as a cotton agronomist working for Texas AgriLife Extension Service at Lubbock. I want to say thank you to all who have worked with me over the last 14 years. We have learned a lot together during that time, and I hope I leave the region better than when I started back in 1997. It has been a great ride, and I wish you all well with your future endeavors.
The Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock is a unique place, and I have been blessed to be able to work with outstanding people there. I will begin my new position with Oklahoma State University as Research Director and Cotton Extension Program Leader at the Southwest Oklahoma Research and Extension Center at Altus in March.
I look forward to the new challenges there and serving the clientele in Oklahoma. The cotton industry consists of outstanding people.
May God continue to bless us!
The new year began with a great sense of optimism for cotton production in Louisiana. The strong price surge that began in the fall and continues to the present is driving this positive outlook. Having said that, Louisiana producers are well diversified in terms of the crops they grow, and many are on rotations that they prefer to maintain, if possible. Strong commodity prices in other crops, such as corn and especially soybeans, may limit a dramatic rise in cotton acres this year.
Most people brave enough to advance a prediction believe planted cotton acres will be up 10 to 20 percent from the prior year. Regardless, cotton acres are on a slow, but steady, rise in Louisiana, which is a welcome trend.
Producers face glyphosate resistance this year, and the problem is expected to spread now that it seems to have a foothold in Louisiana. Producers are being urged to begin including residuals in their herbicide programs and to rotate modes of action. Our entomologist is further encouraging weed-free fields coming out of winter in order to suppress insect populations that use winter weeds as a bridge to the spring-planted crop.
Fertilizer prices are expected to do anything but go down. However, with strong commodity prices, producers who soil test and spend fertilizer (and lime) dollars wisely should still come out ahead. So far we have had a relatively dry winter for our state, and the ground recharge that is expected to provide adequate soil moisture has not taken place. Unless the weather changes soon, we may start 2011 in worse condition than we started 2010, which was pretty dry.
Many producers are irrigating cotton in Louisiana now, and the trend is expected to continue toward more irrigated cotton. In general, the fields are in very good shape thanks to the dry fall we experienced, giving producers a chance to prep fields. Preparations are well underway for what we hope will be a very good cotton season in Louisiana.
The dry fall had a lot of producers concerned through most of December but did allow for land preparation for the 2011 season. Fortunately, rain showers in late December and several days through mid-January have put some moisture in the soil profile in most regions, and cotton farmers are optimistic about the 2011 prices.
I am still hearing expectations for a significant increase in acreage (10-15 percent) throughout Texas. Preparing for the 2011 season, producers are actively identifying some new cotton varieties to round out their cotton acres and are seeking information on these varieties.
The cotton variety results for large and small plot trials in South and Central Texas can be found at the following Web site: http://variety-testing.tamu.edu/cotton/index.htm.
As we think about the process of planting cotton, we need to remember the importance of pre-plant and pre-emergence herbicides to reduce early season weed pressure and minimize the development of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
One last thought refers to producers needing to cover more acres in 2011. Everyone needs to remember the importance of waiting on warm soil temperatures (near 65 degrees) and good seed quality.
Who would have thought when we would see cotton forward contracted for more than $1 per pound of lint? Better yet, who would think with the December price at this level, that cotton acreage would not increase by any large amount? This will most likely be the case in Arkansas for 2011. Despite the increased futures cotton price, it is very likely that cotton acreage in Arkansas will not increase more than 15 to 20 percent, which will result in approximately 640,000 acres.
Current and future commodity prices for both corn and soybeans are strong, which will result in increased acreage of both of these crops. Spring is right around the corner and having a good game plan ready can make all the difference in 2011. Many producers may still be struggling to decide how much crop mixture to plant on their farm and where to put it.
Consider well capacity, field drainage, weed problems, fertility and nematode levels before making final decisions. Cotton should be planted on the better ground with good drainage and high fertility levels. With the high cost of mixed fertilizer, it is crucial to know the soil levels so fields where cotton and other crops will be planted can be cost-effectively fertilized.
However, knowing your weed populations and nematode levels can help make the decisions easier. If corn is going to be in the crop mix, planting corn in fields where glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth (pigweed) is present is a good option because several corn herbicides have excellent control of pigweed. Producers should be aware, however, that pigweed populations can emerge when corn matures, and pigweed seedbanks could be elevated in the fall, causing a greater problem the following year. Corn is also an option where high populations of reniform nematode are present.
If you farm in the Mid-South, keep in mind that plant bugs will likely be our No. 1 pest again. Higher numbers are always found in fields bordering corn. Attempt to segregate the crop mix where possible to potentially reduce constant flushes of plant bugs. One main concern I have regardless of the crop planted is the residual soil moisture levels. Very little precipitation (in any form) has fallen since last spring. If we do not accumulate enough moisture to replenish sub-soil reserves, irrigation initiation and scheduling will be crucial.
As the old saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. To that end, 2010 is in the rear view mirror and 2011 is upon us. 2011 has arrived with renewed optimism in the agriculture community due to favorable commodity prices as well as an above average harvest in 2010. Although commodity prices are favorable, adhering to sound crop production fundamentals remains essential for success.
Avoid using products that claim to enhance performance or yield that do not have adequate scientific data to back up such claims. Utilizing products and practices that have been scientifically proven to be beneficial will aid in maintaining maximum profitability.
Burndown applications will soon be underway, particularly in the more southern regions of the Mid-South. Weed problems we have battled over the past few years include marestail, henbit and annual bluegrass as well as several others. Italian ryegrass that is resistant to multiple herbicide modes of action is also present in the Mississippi Delta, and these populations continue to spread. If you suspect that you have ryegrass populations that are resistant to one or more different herbicide modes of action, take the appropriate steps to manage this weed problem.
Cotton variety selection for the 2011 season, among other production issues, seems to be on most producers’ minds in Georgia this time of year. 2011 will be the first season that no DP 555 BR is planted, completing the transition to two-gene Bt varieties. The 2010 season was challenging in terms of the weather we experienced, but it did give us the opportunity to effectively evaluate the performance of newer varieties in true dryland conditions.
Several varieties appear to be decent dryland performers, but there is no single replacement for DP 555 BR. Instead of a one-size-fits-all variety, producers will now be making selections and placing a mix of varieties in the environments that would optimize yield potential for those varieties. Farmers will also be making variety selections based on realistic yield potential or other challenges, such as pigweed management for particular farms.