Are we ready to look back on 2013 and remember the events and people that made it such an unforgettable year? Some of you may already be groaning because it sounds like I’m about to travel down the nostalgia highway again. Bear with me. We’ll try not to go overboard here. But December is a special month – whether you’re involved in the cotton industry or just an innocent bystander who has no connection whatsoever to agriculture.
First, I’d like to congratulate cotton farmers out there who overcame a wet spring, late planting and unusual summer weather – while delivering a spectacular crop in many parts of the Belt. If you had talked to farmers at any point in the summer or spring, you wouldn’t have heard too much optimism. The prospects didn’t look too good at that point.
But then along came an ideal September that helped finish out the crop in many areas. How did this happen? If you read some of the cotton Extension specialist reports on pages 18, 20 and 21, you’ll hear comments about “high-performing varieties, excellent management and ideal weather conditions in September.”
So, in a sense, this really was one of the more remarkable crop seasons I can recall. Nobody was feeling too good when the heavy rains delayed planting back in the spring. And there were skeptics who didn’t think the crop could possibly catch up and capture enough heat units in the summer. But the experts were wrong. Something unusual happened in the summer and early fall. Now, I’m hearing reports of three and four-bale cotton in Texas, the Mid-South and Southeast.
Our friend Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Extension cotton specialist, says he knows of some four-bale cotton that was produced in his state. Louisiana cotton consultant Tim White called the other day to tell me that his state’s cotton yields had exceeded everyone’s expectations. Now there’s talk of Louisiana increasing cotton acreage by 25 percent in 2014. And even in West Texas where available water is always a concern, we heard about record-breaking yields approaching four bales per acre in some areas.
If there is a lesson to be learned here, it’s that when farmers do an excellent job of managing a crop while taking advantage of new varieties, the results can be mind-boggling. When we look back on the 2013 season, it will be obvious that all elements came together to help farmers. No, it didn’t happen everywhere, but it happened in a lot of places.
When you least expect it, a crop can amaze even the most experienced farmer. So, what’s the moral of the story here? Don’t ever give up on cotton!
If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Or send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.