Harvest Finishes On Positive Note

Mike Milam


According to the Missouri Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending, Nov. 10, cotton harvested was 64 percent complete, 18 days behind last year and 17 days behind normal. There was a lot of variability among fields and within fields. Many producers only need a week or less to get their cotton out, but with the rains that are scattered during harvest, it might take two to three weeks to finish.

As I write this report in mid-November, we were experiencing rain, and we should have four to five days of harvest before our next forecast of rain. While most fields have picked clean, I have seen a few where bolls were not fully opened, and there was a lot of cotton left in the field. After our first freeze, I noticed a few late fields had a lot of dark leaves on the plant. I suspect that some of these fields were killed by the freeze. This could have an adverse impact on fiber quality and trash content.

As I have mentioned before, the July and August rains helped some fields and damaged others. When water stands for a prolonged period of time, there is usually square and boll loss. On the other hand, non-irrigated fields were helped for the most part. There will be a lot of excellent yields this year, some poor ones and a lot in between.

David Wright


There were many fertility problems with our 2013 cotton crop due to high rainfall amounts during July and August (35-50 inches), and much of the management was delayed due to wet conditions. The crop has turned out well in most areas with some areas having poor yields due to wet soils that stayed wet for an extended period of time.

Our producers are pleased with the high yield capacity of many of our new cotton cultivars when conditions are good. With corn prices lower, we expect to see cotton remain a major rotation crop with peanut and soybeans in the coming year. However, cotton prices need to stabilize or increase to pick up additional acreage in the new year.

Many decisions will be made during the next couple of months on what crops will be planted, and crop prices will be watched closely by both farmers and bankers. Don’t forget to pursue as much information as possible and do your homework before making decisions on varieties for 2014.

David Kerns


Cold weather and rain set in during November, but we were already finished with harvest. Our yield estimates for 2013 are nearly complete and things couldn’t look much better. The NASS November crop report for Louisiana has our yields averaging a record shattering 1,306 pounds per acre. Needless to say, we have a lot of very happy cotton farmers in Louisiana this year. The previous record was 1,017 pounds per acre set in 2007. As much as I would like to say, “See what happens when you let your entomologist play cotton specialist,” the credit goes to superb management, good varieties and excellent growing conditions.

As of this writing, the Rayville USDA-AMS Classing Office is reporting that approximately 280,000 bales have been classed. Fiber quality appears to be pretty standard for Louisiana cotton. Color grades are running about 40 percent in the 11, 21 or 31 marks, and another 50 percent as 41. Staples are primarily hovering in the 34-35 range, and micronaire is mostly hitting between 4.8 and 5.2.

Louisiana cotton producers sorely needed a year like 2013. Depending on grain and cotton prices going into next spring, I expect to see as much as a 25 percent increase in cotton acreage in 2014. I’ve enjoyed “playing” cotton specialist this year, but fortunately we have recently hired a more qualified replacement. I’m very pleased to announce that Dr. Dan Fromme has joined the LSU AgCenter as our Cotton Specialist. Dr. Fromme will be based at the Dean Lee Research Station. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Fromme to Louisiana.

Randy Boman


Oklahoma producers have been through a rollercoaster year and are making great harvest progress. As of this writing, many dryland areas are still in the grips of extreme to exceptional drought, and considerable acreage failed. We still have dry watersheds for important reservoirs in the southwestern corner of the state. Some Oklahoma producers who were able to catch some timely rainfall and provide adequate supplemental irrigation are seeing record yields.

Producers in several counties are reporting three- to four-bale irrigated yields. Dryland fields in areas that received excellent summer rainfall are producing 1.5- to two-bale crops. For many producers, the right factors aligned and resulted in record yields. I can attribute this to wise variety selection, the cool down and rainy spell in late July, then a September that was about 30 percent above normal for cotton heat unit accumulation.

Oddly enough – while having been through drought for the third consecutive year in the far southwestern corner of the state due to the distribution of our standing acreage – we may be headed toward a state record for per-harvested acre yield. That remains to be seen.

The other great news is that color and leaf grades, staple, micronaire, strength, uniformity and bark contamination have all been good to excellent based on early classing results. We recently encountered a killing freeze that will likely result in increased bark contamination in the crop harvested from this point forward. Overall, it is great to see this success, and I believe that in 2013 we will set a record for the number of producers who have achieved four-bale per acre production.

Keith Edmisten


It is somewhat painful to write about the cotton crop in North Carolina this year. Our producers faced tremendous challenges trying to get the crop planted and managed with all the rain received during the growing season. It was easy to see why our grandfathers planted cotton on beds with all the excess moisture and the negative effects that had on cotton growth and development.

One of the main benefits of genetically engineered cotton is that it has allowed us to move into reduced-tillage systems. Unfortunately, for this past year, most of the cotton was planted in reduced-tillage systems that do not involve bedding. Cotton planted on beds greatly outperformed cotton planted flat in areas where the excess moisture was severe.

It is unlikely that many producers will revert or go back to conventional tillage and the benefits it has provided based on one year’s experience, especially considering how well these systems have served us since the 1990s when many producers adopted reduced-tillage systems.

It may be possible for some producers to adapt some type of bedding into reduced-tillage operations. This may be as small as adjusting coulters to making a small bed during strip-tillage operations.

Charles Burmester


Early season cotton replanting due to wet, diseased fields were common in northern Alabama this year, and many fields were planted later than normal. The growing season was mostly good with adequate rainfall, but temperatures were lower than normal in July. These cooler temperatures caused maturity of some of our longer season varieties to be much later than normal.

Freezing temperatures in late October damaged some later maturing varieties or cotton that was planted late. Cotton harvest is now mostly completed in northern Alabama. The overall cotton crop was very good with many yields over two bales, with some fields approaching three bales. Freeze-damaged cotton yields will probably average from near zero to 800 pounds per acre.

Cotton acreage in northern Alabama has declined rapidly due to competition for land from wheat, soybeans and corn. During the last two years, I have seen some of the best cotton crops since I have been working in northern Alabama. Keeping cotton in the rotation would be good for all crops and would keep our gins operating.

Presently, I don’t sense that cotton acres will increase in north Alabama next year. Most of the wheat crop has been planted, and farmers also made excellent yields on corn and soybeans this year. In the end, spring economics will determine if we see any acreage shifts.

Guy Collins


Harvest in southwest Georgia has progressed fairly well throughout the fall. The fall weather has been cooperative, with very few intense rains and several sunny days. Cooler temperatures throughout the fall generally slowed the development of some later set bolls, primarily on later planted cotton. Yields have been variable depending on planting date and stress resulting from excessive moisture during the summer. However, reports of good yields have steadily increased.

Some of the northern regions of Georgia’s Cotton Belt areas were hit with a mild frost around Oct. 25. Results from that frost were generally mild but were spotty and variable. As I write this on Nov. 13, we are experiencing our first widespread frost for most of our cotton growing areas, which will likely mark the end of boll development for most of the later-planted fields. Harvest of the remaining crop should progress quickly at this point, as there is little to no incentive to wait on additional boll development from now on.

Harvest of the on-farm variety trials should be complete very soon. During December, several producers will likely begin making variety decisions for 2014. Data from the UGA On-Farm Cotton Variety Performance Evaluation Program will be posted on www.ugacotton.com and periodically updated as more trials are harvested. This information will also be presented at upcoming winter county meetings, the Georgia Cotton Commission’s Annual Meeting & Cotton Production Workshop on Jan. 22 in Tifton and other events.

Gaylon Morgan


As of Nov. 15, picking of the remaining cotton resumed in the Brazos Bottom after a month of wet weather. Hopefully, harvest will be completed in the next few days. In the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend, some rain has been received over the past couple of months. However, some of the major cotton production areas within these regions remain very short of soil moisture and remain in a severe drought.

In the Rolling Plains, cotton harvest is progressing with more than 50 percent of the crop harvested in the southern and northern Rolling Plains. Dryland yields have been reported as highly variable this year, as was the summer rainfall. However, variable dryland yields are highly preferred over the uniformly poor or no yields of the past couple of years.

Irrigated yields in some of our on-farm variety trials have ranged from 1.5 to three bales per acre, depending on how much in-season rain was obtained, and this is representative of the Rolling Plains.

Most folks are hoping to be completed with cotton harvest by Thanksgiving. Following cotton harvest, one of the best return on investments is taking soil samples and obtaining a soil analysis for your cotton fields. Without knowing the current nutrient status of your fields, a lot of money can be wasted on unnecessary or unbalanced fertilizer applications.

In closing, the 2014 on-farm cotton variety trial results for South, East and Central Texas were released in mid-November and are now available at cotton.tamu.edu.

Randy Norton


As we come to the end of the 2013 cotton season, the time comes to review the decisions made during the past season in preparation for the 2014 cotton season. One of those decisions will be related to variety selection. Abundant information on variety performance is available from several sources to assist in making an informed decision regarding variety selection. Seed companies conduct testing programs across Arizona evaluating their varieties for local adaptability. The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension also has a very aggressive variety-testing program that includes evaluation of commercially available varieties and also pre-release experimental varieties from major seed companies.

Testing of experimental varieties is part of Extension’s Upland Cotton Advanced Strains Testing Program, which involves evaluation of varieties in three locations across Arizona, including Yuma, Maricopa and Safford. Commercially available varieties are evaluated as part of Cooperative Extension’s Upland Cotton Variety Testing Program. This program involves evaluating varieties in eight to 10 different locations across Arizona. These trials are conducted on producer-cooperators’ fields and provide an unbiased evaluation of commercially available varieties.

All of the results, including yield and fiber quality data, are summarized each year in a Cooperative Extension publication entitled “Cotton Variety Testing Results” and can be found online at cals.arizona.edu/crops or at your local Cooperative Extension office. Funding for these testing programs comes from Cotton Incorporated, Arizona Cotton Growers Association and participating seed companies. Reviewing the information available on variety performance in your specific region can provide critical information in helping you make an appropriate decision on variety selection for your farm.


Darrin Dodds


It is hard to believe that this is the December 2013 issue of Cotton Farming magazine. It seems like only yesterday that early spring burndown applications were being made. 2013 will be remembered as a challenging, yet very rewarding, year on many levels. We got off to one of the latest starts in recent memory. However, many states including Mississippi, will likely end the year with a new state record yield average for cotton.

Many factors contributed to the phenomenal yields that we observed this year, including weather conditions, pest management and variety selection among others.

Regarding variety selection, cotton producers have access to more quality varieties today than at any other time in history. While genetic improvements certainly contribute to optimum yields, proper variety placement and management have also helped optimize yield. Information on variety performance is available from a variety of sources, and I would encourage you to utilize as many sources of data as possible when making variety selection decisions.

When examining data, take note of the soil type the variety trial was conducted on as well as whether the trial was irrigated. Pay particular attention to data that was collected from soil types and irrigation methods that most closely match those on your farm. The more data you use to select a variety and the closer the conditions from those data resemble conditions on your farm, the greater the likelihood of properly placing a given variety.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. The next issue of Cotton Farming that you receive will have 2014 on it. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Hunter Frame


On Oct. 26, a low of 24 degrees was recorded at the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Suffolk, Va. Producers who applied harvest aids at least 48 hours prior to these low temperatures observed better defoliation and boll opening than those who did not. Some of the uppermost immature bolls were lost. However, bolls surprisingly continued to open, though boll opening has been very slow during the past few weeks.

If producers were not able to apply harvest aids 48 hours prior to the freeze, the results were stuck leaves, resulting in very trashy cotton when picked.

The delayed planting and early freeze in Virginia have culminated in a season that few have seen before. As of the second week of November, only 50 percent of the crop has been harvested – well off the five-year average of 75 percent harvested at this time. Despite a cool, wet year in Virginia, yields seem to be averaging around 960 pounds of lint per acre. There are still a few areas in the state where three-bale yields are being reported. Considering the growing season in Virginia, the overall crop will be slightly above average.

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