Monday, May 20, 2024

2022 Cotton Crop Recap


ALABAMA | Steve M. Brown

STEVE BROWN, alabama
Steve M. Brown,

I’m ready to sit down. We’ve almost made it to the end of 2022.

My work crew this season consisted of my grad student Sam and me. Like many farmers, we couldn’t find good summer help, so it was just the two of us — except for the day and a half I enlisted my wife as a data recorder. I don’t know how we got it all done.

So, it’s time to spend some reflective moments. Time to kick back and think about the good and not so good of 2022. What did we learn this season? What worked? What didn’t? What might we change for next year and beyond? What is on the list of, “If I had it to do over, I would do this?” These latter things could be or not be reason to change management going forward. Sometimes, “what I should have done differently this year,” could be wrong for 2023 because no two years are ever identical. Each year requires in-season adjustments to new and varied challenges. These adjustments can significantly affect our outcomes. 

With recap sheets, record books, field maps, reports and memory, topics such as variety performance, field variations, pest issues, fertility, labor, suppliers and marketing all deserve attention. But also, be thankful you’ve come this far and for those around you with whom and for whom you work and who make it all worthwhile.

I think when all is wrapped at the gin, our crop will be better than expected. Celebrate!

ARKANSAS |Bill Robertson

Bill Robertson, University of Arkansas
Bill Robertson,

The 2022 season continues to deliver issues we rarely see in Arkansas. The continued dry fall has harvest progress at perhaps one of the most rapid we’ve ever experienced. We are well ahead of our five-year average as we roll into November. 

Good cotton usually picks very well, especially when little rainfall occurs after boll opening. We’re also seeing few weather-related losses, giving us the opportunity to get almost everything the plant produced in the module. Our yield-per-acre values should be higher than expected. This is good news — especially in our current economic situation.

Dry cotton doesn’t pack well and is evident in the fact that most of our round modules are 10% to 15% lighter than we generally see. Our color is great and leaf values are low. The dry weather is a bonus for consultants pulling soil samples and producers getting fields worked up for next year as harvest activities are completed. 

Establishing cover crops has been extremely challenging this year. Most expect poor growth at best with covers this fall as our temperatures will likely drop significantly before the moisture we need for good growth arrives. The forecast of a warmer and dryer-than-average fall and winter is falling into place.

The biggest issue most are facing now is the increased percentage of our crop in the discount range for high micronaire. The wonderful weather we had basically the whole month of September matured our top crop more than we may have ever experienced in Arkansas. Between the more mature bolls and delays in initiation of our harvest-aid programs, some varieties are falling in the discount range for high micronaire more than others.

Plans for next year should be falling in place. Issues of input availabilities and input costs appear to be here to stay. 

Contact your local county Extension agent for updates on this season’s testing programs and to get details regarding upcoming production meetings.

ARIZONA | Randy Norton

Randy Norton
Randy Norton,

As we wind down the calendar year for 2022, decisions can be made now for the 2023 summer crop growing season. Water availability issues are at the forefront of decision-making factors that will affect the 2023 cotton production year. We’re likely to see another shift downward in cotton acreage for 2023. However, strong prices for both Upland and Pima cotton will tempt growers to plant that undecided acre to a crop of cotton. Time will tell as we proceed into the late winter and early spring.  

Whatever the level of cotton planting in the state for 2023, management for efficiency will be critical as always. Decisions can be made now during the winter months that will have an impact on the 2023 cotton season. One of the tasks that can be completed is off-season soil sampling. This is an excellent time to sample soils and have them tested for various nutrient levels that can help you determine fertilizer needs for the coming season.

Recent upward trends in fertilizer prices continue to make nutrient-use efficiency even more critical to maintaining a healthy bottom line in your operation. For example, you might discover that a traditional early season phosphorus (P) application is not needed to maintain optimum crop health because a pre-season soil test revealed soil P levels at well above the five parts per million (ppm) critical level for P in cotton. Residual nitrogen (N) in the soil discovered through soil testing might reveal the ability to trim back on in-season N applications. The alternate scenario is also a possibility where deficiencies in soil test levels may indicate the need to increase fertilizer applications in the coming crop year.  

Either way, this information will assist you in determining the right type and amount of fertilizer needed for the 2023 crop. For more information on soil testing, fertilizer recommendations and many other topics, go to the UArizona Extension Crops website at

GEORGIA | Camp Hand

camp hand
Camp Hand,

Each year presents its share of challenges, and the 2022 growing season was no different. Overall, it seems like the theme in Georgia in 2022 was that it was dry when you needed rain and rained when you’d prefer it be a little on the dry side. 

In Tifton, we didn’t have a good rain between April 15 and June 15. Then in August, it started raining and didn’t stop until the second week of September. The untimely rains during boll opening led to a lot of heartburn amongst everyone in the cotton industry because of the plethora of boll rot and hardlock we saw. Personally, I think we had more hardlock than boll rot, and I think more of that wound up in the picker than we thought would. However, yields from April/early May-planted cotton were off a little bit. 

As I write this Nov. 4, the yields I’ve been hearing are pretty good. Of course, we’re still all over the board, but when I start hearing numbers over 1,500 lbs. per acre, I think we’ve had a good year. I spoke to a grower today who averaged over 1,300 lbs., and their operation is 100% dryland!! I’d be thrilled if I was that farmer. Quality has been incredible, and that can be partially attributed to the fantastic harvest weather we’ve had thus far. Only time will tell where we end up because we still have a way to go in terms of harvesting. We likely crossed the halfway mark this week (the week of Halloween). 

If I were a grower, I’d start preparing for 2023. I know the current outlook is bleak, but I also know Georgia growers are resilient and committed to growing cotton. Keep an eye out for variety trial results and county meeting dates. Myself and the rest of the cotton team are looking forward to getting out on the road again, talking with you all about this year and preparing for next year. As always, if you ever need anything, your local UGA county Extension agent and specialists are here to help! Don’t hesitate to reach out. 

LOUISIANA | Matt Foster

matt foster
Matt Foster,

Cotton harvest in Louisiana is wrapping up and was around 98% completed as of Nov. 4, which is around 10% greater than our five-year average. We couldn’t have asked for better weather during harvest this year. Hot and dry conditions throughout the growing season and excessive rainfall in August resulted in extremely variable yields throughout the state. Average yields for the state are projected to be around 850 lbs. of lint per acre, which is below the 2021 state average. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service figures, as of Nov. 4 out of Rayville, 27.4% of the bales received have produced a micronaire value of five or greater. This year’s fiber length, strength and uniformity are averaging 1.15, 30.65 and 81.42, respectively.

Early indications for 2023 are that cotton acres will increase in Louisiana once again. Now is the time to prepare for the 2023 growing season. One of the most important decisions producers make is variety selection. The results from the LSU AgCenter official variety trials and on-farm demonstrations will be available soon at

MISSISSIPPI | Brian Pieralisi

brian pieralisi
Brian Pieralisi,

I appreciate the subtle nuances Mother Nature gives us to set cotton years apart. If we didn’t have the roller coaster ride, all the years would run together, right? 2022 was another year that I will remember, not for the devastating environmental woes, but more for the quiet toll that was taken throughout the year.

In Mississippi, we had the best planting conditions that we’ve experienced in several years. Thrips were heavy as usual, but we had time to deal with this pest while making herbicide applications. Weed control was usual. For the most part, controlling plant height with PGRs was routine due to the drought. Cotton does well during dryer years; however, 2022 was dryer and hotter than “normal,” especially earlier in the season.

Cotton yield was variable across the state. This was no surprise because growth and development varied the entire season, and it was mostly dictated by planting date and environmental conditions. Early cotton didn’t fare well with the hot, dry conditions that we faced late May and June. Plants heights, node counts and fruit retention suffered due to the excessively hot and dry weather. Cotton planted during the second and third week of May capitalized on planting date.  

Mother Nature always throws a curve ball, and she threw a sinker during August. After an almost unbearably hot and dry summer, late August produced two weeks of cool, wet weather and heavy rainfall. Depending on your location, wet weather caused yield-reducing boll rot and hardlocked bolls.  The severity ranged from minimal to a couple of hundred pounds of lint per acre. Some areas in central Mississippi had devastating yield reductions from back-water flooding. Yields in Mississippi ranged from poor to exceptional with the vast majority falling somewhere above average.  

2022 has come and gone for the most part, so it’s time to look toward 2023. Variety selection is paramount when planning for another cotton season. As always, look at multiple-year yield performance for a particular growing region, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Check for Mississippi cotton variety performance data at Happy Holidays!

NORTH CAROLINA |Keith Edmisten

Keith Edmisten
Keith Edmisten,
North Carolina

The cotton crop is probably around 65% harvested as I write this near the end of October. The weather has been mostly dry and allowed for an efficient harvest and good color grades, with 68% of the crop having 31 or better color grades as of Oct. 27. Leaf grades are really good, with the majority of the cotton classed so far between 1 – 3 with very little discounts for extraneous matter (bark and grass etc.) Staple and strength are good with an average of 1.14 and 30.7. The average micronaire is 4.57, but as you would expect with some areas suffering from low, late-season rainfall, about 11.5% of the bales are running high micronaire.

Yields are variable across the state, as is often the situation in North Carolina, with most cotton dependent on rainfall — often spotty thunderstorms. Areas that missed rains in August are reporting below-average to average yields, while areas that received rain in August are seeing surprisingly strong yields. Some growers are actually reporting record yields for their farm. The variability of the crop this year probably puts the overall cotton crop in North Carolina as a little above average in terms of yield and better-than-average fiber quality.

OKLAHOMA | Seth Byrd

seth byrd
Seth Byrd,

By the time this issue of Cotton Farming reaches you, it’s likely that most of the 2022 Oklahoma cotton crop is out of the field — hopefully, that is. To say this past season was challenging would be putting it mildly, and while the majority of planting acres never saw a picker or stripper in them, there have been some success stories this year. 

There will be some very good, irrigated success stories from the ’22 crop and even some pockets of surprisingly great dryland production. As I write this in early November, it’s too early to draw any general conclusions about fiber quality, but the results of what’s available so far show better values than some feared. Hopefully, this trend will continue and be the start to a better season in 2023.

TENNESSEE | Tyson Raper

Tyson Raper, Tennessee
Tyson Raper,

We’re at the forefront of another big change in germplasm. I’ve been very impressed with several lines from each of the new tech platforms, and I believe each has several varieties that will fit well within the Mid-South.  

Although the number of locations in which we’ve been able to test these varieties is limited, most farms will have several relevant trials with applicable data to review when selecting varieties. As these platforms become more widely available, I would still encourage you to slate a large portion of your acres to varieties you know.

It can be easy to get caught up in the “new.” The varieties we have now are nothing short of outstanding, and most of these new traits do not provide an inherent increase in yield but instead ease management. Results from some of these trials will hopefully be available by the time you read this; reach out to your local Extension agent or agronomist for more information.

TEXAS | Ben McKnight

ben mcknight
Ben McKnight,
Texas A&M

As the 2022 growing season winds down at the time I write this Nov. 4, I’m already looking forward to next year. This year was one of the driest, warmest years on record and led to many challenges for producers in Texas. In many cases, yields were well below average depending on the region of the state. In some regions, like the Coastal Bend, conditions were so dry that cotton failed to emerge in many fields. 

As we start to formulate a plan for the 2023 growing season, I would encourage growers to be active with soil testing over the winter months to determine their plant nutrient needs heading into next year. Having an idea of the precise amount of fertilizer inputs needed for a yield goal can assist with minimizing unnecessary costs. 

Variety selection for the coming year should also be at the top of the list during the winter months. Variety trial data can provide important information to assist with this decision-making process. The results from the Texas A&M RACE trials will be published online in December, and I encourage growers to take a look at the results from 2022 and previous years to see how certain varieties performed in their respective growing region. Those results can be found at 

The Texas Plant Protection Association Conference is scheduled for Dec. 6-7 at the Brazos Center in Bryan, Texas. The Beltwide Cotton Conferences are scheduled for Jan. 10-12 in New Orleans, Louisiana. I look forward to seeing you at the meetings! 

TEXAS | Murilo Maeda

Murilo Maeda
Murilo Maeda,
Texas A&M

Harvest is in full swing as I write this early November. Cool, at times wet, conditions have created challenges in preparing the crop for harvest, but growers keep pushing forward. Yields are lower than initially expected — by as much as 30% for some irrigated fields. However, considering the summer we had, it’s understandable. Thankfully, according to the USDA AMS classing report, fiber quality is good with no major issues as it can often be seen when we have unfavorable conditions during the summer months. 

The Lubbock classing office is reporting approximately 47,000 bales classed from 37 gins as of Nov. 3. It averaged 36.74 staple, 1.15 length, 31.44 strength, 80.82 uniformity and 4.19 micronaire. The latest USDA Farm Service Agency crop acreage report from Oct. 3 noted West Texas cotton growers seeded 4.7 million acres in 2022. The split between irrigated and dryland acres is approximately 38% and 62%, respectively. 

As of this writing, FSA numbers indicate that as much as 2.95 million acres were failed in the 1N (Northern High Plains) and 1S (Southern High Plains) regions, accounting for almost 63% of the total acres planted. We continue to hear (and see) about more acres being failed, so we still expect an increase in those numbers from the Nov. 9 report. And it may not be until later in the year that we will have anything close to the final numbers for the region. 

We continue to wish a safe harvest for those working the long hours to bring the crop in. Movement of large equipment is normal this time of year, so please stay safe out there. 

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