|In This Issue|
|2014 Seed Variety Guide|
|Texas Brothers Find Formula For Success|
|What Customers Want|
|Producers Need Data On New Varieties|
|Cotton Consultants Corner|
Encouraging Signs For 2013 Crop
HOPE FOR MISSOURI'S COTTON CROP
Missouri's cotton harvest finally began in early October. We are still two to three weeks later than normal. Harvest got off to a good start before showers shut us down. One observation is that we had an excellent fall for the cotton to mature out more of the top bolls. Many of our producers pushed irrigation much later during the season to mature these bolls. Early defoliation has been under warm conditions, and thus defoliation has been good overall.
I have observed open bolls all the way to the top of the plant in several fields. It remains to be seen if the pickers can put these smaller bolls in the basket.
The non-irrigated cotton improved with the July and August rains, although cotton on heavier soil types took a beating. There is an awful lot of variability among fields. It remains to be seen if we end up with better-than-average yields. Currently, we are projected to have 10 days of dry weather to help get this crop out of the field.
YIELDS HIGHER THAN EXPECTED
The cotton harvest in Louisiana is for all practical purposes complete. Due to the government shutdown in October and subsequent lack of official yield reports when writing this update, unofficially the yields look very promising. We are hoping that 2013 will break the 1,017 pounds-per- acre record set in 2007.
We undoubtedly have access to increasingly better genetics coming from our seed companies, and, coupling that with excellent environmental conditions, we have made an excellent cotton crop in Louisiana. We did start off the season a little cool, but conditions warmed up nicely in June and never got excessively hot. Rain events were sufficient and well-timed until August. Insect pests were not excessively severe in 2013, and problems that did arise were soundly managed.
Additionally, potash deficiency didn't seem to be as prevalent as in recent years. We did run into a flurry of leaf spot outbreaks, but they didn't persist and result in much defoliation. Lastly, September was warm and dry, and October saw only a little rain with little in the way of wind.
Viewed from any angle, you really couldn't ask for more perfect harvest conditions.
HARDLOCK PROBLEMS PERSIST
Farmers are getting a good idea of what their cotton varieties did for this season with the year's supply of rain in July and August. Much of the management was timely despite the wet conditions during bloom. There have been some reports of two- and three-bale cotton but not a lot higher. Picking conditions have been good so far with days getting shorter and dew lasting longer.
It is important to get cotton picked as soon as it is ready as yield and quality decline the longer it stays in the field. We have seen a lot of hardlock in fields this year where cool nights during bloom resulted in cotton that looked good until it starts to open and then fails to fluff out. Many fields here look like we may be losing 200 to 300 pounds per acre of lint from locks and bolls that fall to the ground as the picker passes through the field.
Our research shows that one to two timely fungicide applications along with two to three insecticide applications during bloom can make a difference in the amount of hardlock when cloudy conditions (cooler nights) occur.
WEATHER COOPERATES WITH HARVEST
As I write this on Oct. 18, harvest is well underway in southwest Georgia. Recent harvest weather has been relatively cooperative with several sunny, dry days and minimal rainfall on occasion. Temperatures this fall were slightly cooler than normal, which could possibly slow boll development in some of the late-planted fields. Temperatures are expected to decline during the latter half of October.
Therefore, producers should consider these lower temperatures when making decisions regarding harvest-aid product selection and rates. So far, reported yields have been decent but variable from region to region. Time will tell what the later planted crop will do, but many of these fields look much better than they did during late summer.
EARLY COTTON GRADES LOOK GOOD
As of Oct. 21, virtually all cotton in South Texas and East Texas has been harvested. The overall quality graded at Corpus Christi and Abilene was fairly good. Some higher-than-normal bark was reported from the Corpus Christi Classing office. None of the producers that I have visited with in South and East Texas were surprised by the yields or quality, and yields exceeded some producers' expectations. In the Rolling Plains, the cotton maturity remains highly variable depending on the moisture situation during the summer and planting date.
By the first week of October, the cotton crop ranged from 80 percent open boll in some fields to 10 percent open boll in other fields. Unfortunately, a lot of the late maturing cotton is the irrigated cotton with the highest yield potential.
The cotton variety results from the 2013 RACE trials for South and East Texas will be available by Dec. 1 or before at Cotton.tamu.edu.
FLEXIBILITY WAS THE KEY THIS YEAR
This has been such an unusual season, and I am not sure how much of what we have learned this year will be of use in the future. I certainly hope that we don't have to use the lessons we have learned this year again for a long time. I do think it is important to keep in mind a few things. The leaching loss adjustments from the tobacco book seemed to work pretty well for fertilization responses to the excessive rain.
Producers who could adjust quickly seemed to turn the crop around best. Cotton maturity appeared to be delayed where producers significantly exceeded these adjustments. Stink bug and plant bug control efforts were difficult with all the rain we had, and it is pretty easy to find fields in some areas where there was significant yield loss due to these pests. Producers who did not scout for these pests and relied purely on Bt often suffered a good deal of damage. Even where producers were scouting cotton, the weather often prevented timely applications to control these pests.
IDEAL CONDITIONS BOOST CROP
As of this writing, cotton harvest is just beginning in the state. It should be noted that we were very blessed by a great September and early October. This provided a necessary boost for crop maturity in some areas. Lint yields will be highly variable. For the third consecutive year, we will lose a lot of dryland acres due to continued extreme to exceptional drought in the southwestern corner of the state.
However, there is some good to excellent cotton in areas with adequate irrigation capacity. I expect many of these fields will be in the two- to four-bale per acre range. Other areas with less abundant irrigation will produce less than that. However, it is notable that the drought situation has improved in many counties. It is too early to predict fiber quality, as we still run the risk of weathering potential with the crop. This can adversely affect color grades and bark contamination. Based on the varieties planted across the state, staple, micronaire and strength should be good to excellent in many irrigated fields.
COOL WEATHER DELAYS HARVEST
Few acres of cotton have been picked at this time (Oct. 21), though defoliation and harvesting recently hastened with a favorable forecast. Cotton defoliation has been delayed even further on much of the acreage as a stalled weather front lingered over southeast Virginia for a week in early October. Temperatures are forecast for highs in the 60s and lows dipping into the 30s. With a good portion of Virginia cotton still awaiting defoliation, producers will be taking full advantage of any days with clear skies and calm winds.
However, boll opening will be slow, and producers will likely have to wait longer for boll openers and defoliants to work on the remaining cotton acres.
As of Oct. 1, USDA estimates have only five percent of the cotton acreage harvested in Virginia, and the estimated yield for the state is 1,022 pounds of lint per acre.
PICKIN' AND PLANNIN'
Cotton harvest has been underway to some degree for the past four to six weeks. As was the case in the spring, the fall weather has been somewhat uncooperative. Mississippi producers were fortunate to receive several weeks of great weather conditions during late August and September. However, since that time sporadic rain showers have prevented harvest activities from running at full speed.
In spite of this, preliminary yield reports have been very encouraging. Several reports of four-bale cotton have come in over the past few weeks.
It seems that producers are encouraged to make variety selection decisions earlier and earlier each year. I would encourage you to hold off on making final decisions with respect to varieties until adequate yield data is available.
HARVEST MOVING QUICKLY ON HIGH PLAINS
Cotton harvest has begun for most of the Texas High Plains and, if not, will begin soon as freezing temperatures were observed across most of the region, and harvest aids are being applied to remaining irrigated fields. For the most part, high rates of ethephon tankmixed with various ppo materials (Aim, Display, ET, Resource and Sharpen) or Folex were used as first applications with follow-up terminating applications of a paraquat (Gramoxone Inteon, Firestorm, Parazone, etc.) or ppo.
No reports of yields coming in below what producers had anticipated have been received to date. Reports of 2.5-plus bales per acre have come from producers with higher irrigation capacity drip fields. Finally, if the weather holds, and no precipitation is observed, fields across the region will be rapidly harvested during the coming weeks.
STINK BUGS STILL A PROBLEM
We are well into the 2013 harvest season and some interesting results have been observed across the state. The spring planting season of 2013 was very good with few exceptions, resulting in excellent stands and good early season vigor. Heat stress during the summer of 2013 was fairly minimal with the exception of a few weeks in late June and early July not resulting in significant widespread heat stress impacts.
One factor affecting the 2013 cotton crop in a negative fashion is similar to one that we experienced, to a limited extent, in 2012. Damage caused by stink bug populations has had a significant impact on the outcome of the 2013 cotton crop. Educational programming on the part of Extension along with producer demonstrations of control techniques have increased in an effort to provide information to address this problem.