Steady Resilience Helps Harvest

10-13CFcvrBy Tommy Horton

We’re almost to the end of this long 2013 season, and by the time many of you read this issue of Cotton Farming, we’re hopeful that the cotton crop will have been harvested in a timely fashion – even if it was a couple of weeks late. You might say this was another wild roller coaster ride of a season with unpredictable weather in nearly every region except the West.

Now it’s time to harvest this year’s cotton and keep the rain away as the pickers head for the fields. In our cover story on pages 10, 11 and 12, we received updates from an ag expert in every region to learn what occurred during the year. We also wanted to know what kind of harvest strategy might be employed in each region. It was interesting to hear candid remarks from Guy Collins (Southeast), Tim White (Mid-South), Brad Cowan (Southwest) and Randy Norton (West).

When you’re dealing with a late-planted crop across parts of three regions, it’s easy to see how producers would be anxious as they rolled into the last weeks of the season. In order to salvage this crop, a lot of things needed to happen at the right time – defoliation, adequate heat units, warm temperatures and knowing how long to wait on that last boll in the top of the crop.

Ironically, as I have traveled to different parts of the Belt in the last couple of months, I was impressed with how producers were handling the uncertainty of this crop. In Texas, depending on where a producer is located, it’s all about maximizing available water. Nobody was panicking. It was more a case of doing whatever is necessary to make smart decisions.

In the Mid-South, it was about dealing with a late crop and trying to play catchup for most of the summer. I recently was on a producer’s farm south of Clarksdale, Miss., and was amazed at how well the crop looked. By the third week in September, this crop had “caught up” and was ready to be defoliated.

Meanwhile, our friends in the West had a relatively mild year for heat stress and insect pressure, so spirits were high there. It was all about making good use of limited water in Arizona and California.

As for the Southeast, it appears that it’s a high-wire situation until the very end. Torrential rains in August in Georgia wound up setting records, putting the late-planted acreage into a make-or-break scenario. But, as I said earlier, nobody was acting panicky in any region. The resilience of producers this year was encouraging.

Much like a football team rallying in the fourth quarter, optimism remains high.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Or send e-mail to:

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