Thursday, November 30, 2023

2018 End Of Season Wrap-Up

Bill Robertson, Arkansas
Bill Robertson,

While some farmers got a later start than usual, the above-average temperatures in May propelled the crop to one of our fastest starts. As we rolled into harvest, the frequent and often heavy rainfall caused delays and had negative effects on grades and yield.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service October Crop Production report estimated production at 1.15 million bales, unchanged from the Sept. 1 forecast but 76,000 bales above last year. Yield is expected to average 1,150 pounds per harvested acre, unchanged from last month but down 27 pounds from 2017. Harvested acreage is estimated at 480,000 acres, up 42,000 acres from 2017.

As the season comes to an end, study the performance of newer varieties to the ones you grow and compare notes with nearby on-farm variety testing programs. The official variety trial conducted by Dr. Fred Bourland will help provide information needed to select the best varieties for your farm.

Visit for OVT and county variety performance results. Contact your county Extension agent for updates on this season’s testing programs and to get the dates and locations of upcoming county production meetings.

Randy Norton
Randy Norton

We haven’t seen this kind of disruption in cotton harvest so wide-scale in Arizona probably since the cool, wet years of the late ’70s and into the ’80s. Some areas of central Arizona received as much as 5 to 6 inches of rain over a 14-day period in late September and early October.

A lot of cotton had not been defoliated, but much of the crop was open and exposed to the weathering effects of the rain and, in some cases, hail.

Fiber weathering results in deterioration of fiber color, weakening of fiber strength, increased variability in fiber length as well as an overall shortening of fiber length. A “Cotton Physiology Today” newsletter provides excellent information on the effects of boll and fiber weathering at

Not all the cotton across the state was exposed to weathering, and a good portion of the crop has been harvested under more favorable conditions. Yield and fiber quality reports from much of the Arizona crop have been encouraging. The eastern part of the state has excellent yield and fiber quality.

Heat stress in the low desert during the last part of July and into early August has affected overall production of the central Arizona crop. Results from the university variety testing program will be released near the beginning of 2019.

David Wright, Florida
David Wright,

Florida cotton was on the way to a record yield due to timely rains throughout the growing season. The crop was split as about half of the it was planted in early May and the other half in early June after a mid-May tropical storm caused wet conditions.

Hurricane Michael will be remembered for many years with 90 to 100 percent yield loss for defoliated cotton in the central part of the panhandle. Late-planted non-defoliated cotton was twisted and tangled, and picking will be much slower because of blown-out open bolls.

Even though the eye of the hurricane came through the center of the panhandle, cotton on either side for 100 miles was affected to varying degrees by high winds.

Time will tell what 2018 final yields will be, but many farmers will need assistance to farm in 2019 as much infrastructure also was lost. It will be months before some areas get back to near normal with electricity and other aspects of life.

Guy Collins, North Carolina
Guy Collins,
North Carolina

Fall 2018 has been challenging. Hurricane Florence left a significant mark on our cotton acreage in the southeastern region through the lower Sandhills and even the lower Piedmont region with severe flooding and wind damage.

The remnants of Hurricane Michael resulted in weathering losses generally ranging from 50 to 150 pounds per acre, depending on when cotton was planted and how open it was when Michael came through. The rest of the harvest season has been stop and go, with rains every four to five days.

Despite the challenges, we still have good yields and high-quality cotton in many areas. Yields are variable, depending on planting date and severity/length of drought stress in late June through early July. The rainy spell towards the end of July and into August benefited some acres and penalized others.

I’m proud to say the North Carolina On-Farm Cotton Variety Testing Program was again a huge success in 2018, due to the effort from the North Carolina Cotton Producers Association, North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and our North Carolina State University county agents and cooperating growers. The results of this program and the official variety trials will be presented at upcoming statewide and county meetings throughout the winter.

See for variety trial results and upcoming meeting dates. Variety trial results also will be available in the NC Cotton Variety Performance Calculator at

Darrin Dodds, Mississippi
Darrin Dodds,

The 2018 harvest season has turned into The NeverEnding Story (yes, like the 1984 movie) for growers in Mississippi and beyond. About 15 percent of our crop remained in the field as of mid-November.

Late-season rain has resulted in the most challenging harvest season since 2009. Yields have ranged from sub-par to unbelievable, depending on location. Take some time during the next few weeks to do your variety performance homework. We anticipate a push toward three-gene Bt cotton due to the worm issues we have seen the past couple of seasons.

Evaluate the return on investment from planting a two-gene Bt variety and potentially spraying for worms compared to planting a three-gene Bt cotton, assuming you wouldn’t have to spray for worms. A thorough study of which one is more financially advantageous will help add to your 2019 bottom line.

Be safe and count your blessings this holiday season. Merry Christmas to all.

Dan Fromme, Louisiana
Dan Fromme,

As of Nov. 7, about 10 percent of the acres have not been harvested due to rain during the past two to three weeks. Last year at this same time, cotton harvest operations in Louisiana had been completed.

Yield reports have been favorable on about 63 percent of the harvested acres. Lack of rainfall throughout the growing season or too much rain during harvest has reduced yields on the remainder of the 2018 crop. Lint yields for the state have the potential to be around 1,050 to 1,100 pounds per acre, which would be the best crop we have had since 2014.

For the bales that have been classed for the state, fiber length and strength have averaged 1.16 and 30.8, respectively. Fiber uniformity has averaged 81.2. Currently, 27 percent of the bales have received discounts from high micronaire values.

Leaf grade discounts have been a concern this year. More than 45 percent of the bales classed so far are yielding a value of 4 or greater. For color grades, 15.5 percent and 2.4 percent of the bales classed have been light spotted and spotted, respectively.

Calvin Meeks, Missouri
Calvin Meeks,

As I write this, the cotton crop in Missouri is finishing up a year that looks to be one of the best ever with 92 percent of the crop harvested on Nov. 5. Our warm, sunny summer pushed the crop along. Even cotton I planted in June looks to yield well.

Yields seem to be down from last year in the Senath area due to extreme rains that occurred late in the year. Yields farther north look to be excellent with the 1,240 pounds per-acre estimate appearing to be within reach.

Remaining acreage will likely be weathered as heavy rain and cool temperatures delay picking. Widespread re-growth was reported in previously defoliated fields, even in two-pass defoliation programs. Most producers picked in less-than-optimal conditions instead of opting for a third pass with a herbicidal defoliant.

The Memphis classing office notes a decline in several quality factors, especially color.

As harvest wraps up, some growers have already placed seed orders. Preliminary results from the Missouri official variety trials are available at Yields were good with numerous varieties breaking 2,000 pounds per acre in most locations. The final results will be posted soon. Look for an announcement finalizing the 2019 Regional Missouri Cotton Meeting at the Fisher Delta Research Center.

Seth Byrd, Oklahoma
Seth Byrd,

Cool, wet conditions have resulted in slow progress for cotton harvest in Oklahoma. However, as I write this in early November, a freeze is in the forecast for most of the state that has yet to get one, followed by clear conditions. We hope a lot of harvest progress will be made by the time this issue of Cotton Farming reaches you.

The affect of the cool and wet fall has yet to be observed in the small sample of Oklahoma cotton that’s been classed thus far. Colorr is prone to degrade under these conditions. Micronaire will also be a focus, particularly in the northern growing areas of the state.

Visit or for meeting details.

Galon Morgan, Texas
Galon Morgan,

The South, East and Rolling Plains have been plagued since early September with consistent overcast skies and rain. The last of the Lower Rio Grande cotton was harvested in early November, two month behind normal. The Coastal Bend was able to get nearly all its cotton out.

Unfortunately, the remainder of South and East Texas still has a considerable amount of cotton in the field. Estimates show 25 percent, 20 percent, 60 percent and 60 percent of the Upper Gulf Coast, Winter Garden, Southern Blacklands and Northern Blacklands, respectively. Many of these fields have been defoliated for more than two months, and lint is still on the plants.

Fiber quality continues to decrease, and seed value will be low. The saturated September and October has prevented growers from destroying cotton plants that could host boll weevils. This makes everyone nervous since the pest has been present in the Coastal Bend region since July.

In the Rolling Plains, not much dryland cotton survived the summer drought. Irrigated cotton harvest is delayed and fiber quality will be off. Cotton variety information may be delayed, but we will provide most of the trial results for South and East Texas in early December.

Tyson Raper, Tennessee
Tyson Raper,

As I write this on Nov. 9, we still have about 20 percent of our cotton crop in the field. Rains have delayed cotton harvest and significantly affected quality in the upper Mid-South.

However, we have been fortunate that yields were typically better than expected. During the first few weeks of September, I was concerned state average yield might fall shy of 1,000 pounds. Currently, we are on track to surpass 1,000 pounds. It has been tough to hear about the conditions experienced elsewhere this harvest season.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with our neighbors to the south.

I’m beginning to analyze yield and fiber quality data from our 2018 testing season, and there are many interesting results. As always, we will conduct meetings in all major cotton-producing counties and will host a cotton-only event during February.

This year, we are fortunate to again have several cotton specialists from neighboring states participating in a roundtable. Visit for variety testing results, other pertinent trials and a list of our meeting schedules.

Murilo Maeda
Murilo Maeda
Texas A&M

There are some great irrigated fields in the region and some good-looking rainfed ones that received timely precipitation during the growing season. Widespread rains in the first three weeks of October delayed harvest for most farmers across the Texas High Plains.

Cooler temperatures are becoming more prevalent, and many as far south as Terry County already experienced a first freeze. As of this writing, the USDA-AMS Classing Office at Lubbock had classed approximately 80,000 bales. Its latest report does not show any major effect of adverse weather on fiber quality so far.

Our first large replicated trial in the Southern Plains was harvested in Hale County Oct. 30. Results will be posted at

Contact your local agent for meeting information.

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