The National Agricultural Statistics Service October Crop Production report estimated Arkansas cotton production to be at 1,088 pounds lint per acre, unchanged from last month but down 4 pounds from 2015. This exceeds our 5-year average of 1,073 pounds lint per acre by 15 pounds.
Our crop continues to be ahead of schedule. As about half of our crop has been harvested this season, the 5-year average for the same date was just shy of 30 percent harvested.
Reports of fiber quality have been good. Lack of rainfall during much of the harvest season has resulted in excellent color grades. Just over 45 percent has received a color grade of 31 or better. About 80 percent of the bales classed have a leaf grade of 4 or less. Micronaire values this season have averaged 4.6 with less than 17 percent in the discount range of 5 or greater.
In Arkansas, we generally expect to see our early crop outyield our later crop. This is not what most farmers are experiencing this season. The extended wet and cloudy August weather came just as our early crop was starting to open. Reports of 1.25 to 1.5 bales per acre were heard from our early cotton as the occurrence of boll rot and hard lock was great. Fortunately, yields improved as harvest progressed. Our good fields are yielding in excess of 3 bales per acre. The 4-bale yield potential we had in many fields the first part of August slipped away.
While we have harvested a number of our county on-farm variety plots, we have yet to start the gin. Based on seed cotton weights, we have a number of varieties that are consistently performing well. We look forward to combining the county data with Dr. Fred Bourland’s Variety Performance Trial results.
County production meetings are being scheduled at this time. Contact your county Extension agent for dates and locations for a meeting near you.
I asked an older farmer how many years he had been farming, and he told me “the first time this year.” Every year is new and has challenges. This was one that had low prices and record warm temperatures throughout with heavy thrips numbers early in the season. Wet conditions slowed planting in some areas followed by short periods of drought throughout the summer. Plant stands seemed erratic when the cotton first came up, but most fields ended up looking good. The early September hurricane twisted the cotton as it was beginning to open but appeared not to do a lot of harm.
New cotton varieties are exciting with excellent yield potential, giving growers hope that they can make a profit with higher yields. Yields have varied in cotton that has been picked so far but appear to be average overall with some fields looking very good. Our growers are hoping for higher prices in 2017 as they have good varieties from which to choose and like to have cotton in rotation with peanut and corn if prices are favorable.
As we approach mid-October, cotton harvest is nearing completion. Harvest conditions have been good throughout the state during the past six weeks. We hope to finish harvesting by the end of October. Louisiana will harvest about 136,000 acres of cotton this year, which will be the third lowest on record.
Lint yields across the state in 2016 are variable due to the heavy amounts of rain we received in August. Yield estimates for the state are projected to be about 800-900 pounds of lint per acre. Yields are extremely variable and lower in Central Louisiana compared to Northeast Louisiana where yields are being reported in the 1,100-1,200 pound range.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Marketing Service figures (as of 10/6/16) out of Rayville, 40 percent of the bales received have produced a micronaire value of 5 or greater. In 2015, 59.6 percent of the bales produced a micronaire of 5 or greater. This year’s strength and uniformity are a little lower, while length is a little higher compared to the 2015 crop.
Mississippi cotton growers could not have asked for a better harvest season up to this point. Little to no rainfall occurred after we defoliated, and yields have been very good. Two months ago (late July, early August), many folks were nervous about the status of this crop given the two to four weeks of wet weather that was occurring at that time. However, once defoliation applications took place and this crop started to open up, many were pleasantly surprised by what awaited them in the field. Dryland yields of 1,000-1,200 pounds per acre (and more in some cases) have been common. Irrigated yields have been even better in many areas.
One of the things that helped make this crop was a warm September. For the most part, daytime temperatures topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the entire month. Warm temperatures allowed much of the upper portion of the plant to mature, and as a result, there are not many fields with a prominent switch in the upper portion of the plant.
Many growers were working on land preparation immediately after harvest. If all goes well, the vast majority of this crop will be out of the field by the time this issue of Cotton Farming reaches your hands. Early indications point to acreage increases for cotton in Mississippi in 2017.
That harvest has gone so smoothly is somewhat of a surprise to me and many other Missouri agricultural veterans. We did have some rain during the early defoliation period, but not much since. For the last two weeks of October, we have only a few days of rainfall projected. Having so little rain during harvest is an oddity.
Not only have we had little rainfall, the warm days have certainly helped speed up defoliation. Harvest has proceeded at a rapid pace. At the time of this writing in mid-October, we are 34 percent harvested, which is 13 points above the 5-year average. The condition of the crop is 5 percent very poor, 14 percent poor, 52 percent fair, 26 percent good and 3 percent excellent.
As far as overall yields, we could have an above-average crop. But a lot can happen late in the season. With the lack of rain and very little dew, it is dusty. A good rain could help knock off a few more leaves, but it could also result in more regrowth.
As soon as harvest is completed, soil sampling, meetings, weed control planning and variety selection begin. Some producers have indicated they will use the dicamba trait next year out of self-defense against drift. I can remember pre-GMO, when variety selection was so much simpler.
The 2016 crop is racing toward the finish line. A considerable number of acres reached cutout somewhat earlier than normal in August, which was about 10 percent below normal for cotton heat unit accumulation. September temperatures were extremely beneficial for maturity, and we finished the month about 4 percent above normal.
As of this writing in mid-October, temperatures have been above normal, and initial harvest-aid treatments have been very effective. Some of the early May planted cotton has been terminated with harvest aids, and harvest has begun. A record-setting year is possible if we can get the crop harvested without significant weathering issues.
Questions are being asked about bacterial blight challenges that susceptible varieties encountered this year. In some fields, premature defoliation and boll infections were noted, and yield loss is likely. We had a perfect storm of factors that contributed to disease development, especially in Jackson and Tillman counties.
Plant-damaging maximum wind gusts of 50-60 mph were recorded by the Altus Mesonet Station on May 22, June 28, and July 6, 8 and 15. Normal rainfall in May and June coupled with above-normal July rainfall provided ample opportunities for higher-than-normal humidity. According to Altus Mesonet data, the long-term 24-hour average humidity at 1.5 meters above the ground in early July is just under 60 percent. In 2016, this value was nearly 70 percent. High humidity coupled with the fact that in 2016, Altus had only five days with 100 degrees or greater temperatures provided more opportunity for the bacteria to infect susceptible varieties. In 2016, we never really encountered the sustained high temperatures and low humidity that are typical in July and August. These hot, dry conditions are generally unfriendly for further disease development. Producers with concerns about this disease should do their homework and investigate bacterial blight-resistant varieties for planting in 2017, especially in fields where heavy disease pressure was observed this year.
Hopefully, all cotton has been defoliated and harvested by the time you read this, but some, if not most, of you will likely have cotton left to defoliate and harvest. Defoliation in cool conditions can often be difficult. One of the treatments we have seen work best in cooler weather is products that contain thidiazuron and diuron. Ginstar is the product with which most of you are likely familiar, but there also are generic defoliants that contain these active ingredients.
The temperatures in November will likely be cool enough that we will need to use rates at the upper end of the label. Protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) defoliants such as Aim, Blizzard, ET and Resource also generally work well in cooler temperatures. Adding the proper adjuvant is especially important with PPO products under cool conditions. See labels for recommended adjuvants. Growers will need to keep in mind that boll openers are hormonal defoliants with activity that is temperature dependent. Where boll openers are needed, they should be applied at the higher end of the labeled application rates.
Tennessee, as a whole, has had an exceptional year for cotton. Replant acres were down, and a large portion of our acres was planted between April 25 and May 8. Even the later planted crop has done well largely due to timely rains and the long fall we have had up to this point. Some areas struggled with drought stress late in the effective flowering period – especially around Whiteville – but the bulk of our acres in Haywood and Crockett counties appeared to luck out with several pop-up showers through the heat of summer.
Early planting dates have resulted in an early harvest for many. Preliminary numbers along the Mississippi River, south along the Mississippi state line, through Central Tennessee, and within the center of West Tennessee have all been promising. The USDA estimate is still close to 1,020 pounds per acre, and I believe this is a good number. Although we may fail to break last year’s record, we have almost twice as many acres this year as last. For that reason, many within the cotton industry have called this a year to remember.
On another note, we are currently harvesting plots and will start the UT Cotton MicroGin within the next two weeks. Find me on Twitter (@TysonRaper) or on news.utcrops.com for information on trial results and updated recommendations. Safe harvest!
Lint quality in the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend followed suit with their yields, with overall good lint quality. The Upper Gulf Coast and Blacklands have not been so fortunate. Seven to nine days of persistent rain in mid-August delayed harvest for 30-plus days. Although no major amounts of lint were on the ground, lint yields are off significantly compared to earlier harvested fields.
Some “weathered” cotton is now working its way through the U.S. Department of Agriculture classing office. Color, trash, micronaire, and uniformity have all been negatively affected by the weathering and delayed harvest. Low loan values and not having sufficient seed to cover ginning cost have added insult to injury.
In the Southern and Central Rolling Plains, harvest has just begun but average to slightly above-average yields are expected as a whole. However, August rains spurred significant regrowth and are making defoliation a challenging and expensive endeavor. The Northern Rolling Plains has a great looking dryland and irrigated crop. Hailstorms in certain areas have destroyed some significant acreage, but this is one of the better dryland cotton crops I have seen across the Northern Rolling Plains. Stink bugs and boll rot are typically not major problems in the Rolling Plains, but I observed numerous fields showing the results of high infestations of stink bugs earlier in the season.
In reflection, 2016 has been different than most, due to unusual weather. However, like most years in a state as big as Texas, there are regions that have great cotton, most have good to average cotton, and some have poor cotton. We hope the “great” cotton is spread around, and cotton remains a viable crop for producers across Texas.
Harvest began across parts of the High Plains in late September. As of Oct. 12, there has been some progress made in many dryland fields in areas that missed the majority of the seasonal rainfall. However, much of the dryland acres benefited from rains received in late August through mid-September. Harvest-aid applications ramped up across the region in early to mid-October on these fields as well as the irrigated acres.
The late moisture the crop received, coupled with good environmental conditions over the past two months, have resulted in several fields with taller-than-normal plants with some bolls present that likely won’t mature by harvest due to cold nighttime temperatures. Many of these fields will benefit from an application of a tribufos or PPO-type defoliant in combination with ethephon to remove green vegetation prior to the desiccating application for stripper harvest preparation.
Though some regrowth occurred due to late rains, high fruit retention has kept it in check in most fields. Harvest operations across the area will likely occur in full force beginning in late October or early November. Crop maturation has benefitted from warm temperatures and effective harvest-aid products, leaving many optimistic about what we may see when harvest gets fully underway.
Well, the good news is Hurricane Matthew is gone. The bad news is the last two weeks of September and first week of October saw 20-plus inches of rain for much of Virginia’s cotton growing region. Reports of substantial hardlock and boll rot are now surfacing. There seems to be a variety correlation with these issues as well as a management component.
One observation I have made in our test plots is that no matter the planting date, nitrogen rates exceeding 100 pounds per acre on heavier textured soils exacerbated the hardlock in 2016. Also, sulfur rates exceeding 30 pounds sulfur per acre on the same soils seemed to produce plants that did not cut out properly. We are doing a lot of research on nitrogen and sulfur fertility and are finding that soil type, variety, and nitrogen and sulfur management are instrumental in performance at the end of the season. Site-specific management (variable-rate N and S) will be needed across fields with varying soil types to minimize these losses in the future.
With the weather we experienced, an average of 1,000 pounds lint per acre is most likely out of reach. Producers in Virginia are looking at another hard year on the back end of cotton production.View More in our Archives