Monday, May 20, 2024

Season Ends on a Positive Note



Bill Robertson AR
Bill Robertson e-mail

The latest USDA yield report estimates Arkansas’ crop at 1,137 pounds of lint per acre. This set a record, surpassing our previous record of 1,133 pounds of lint per acre set last year. As this report is being prepared, we should be 90 percent-plus harvested. Significant changes to yield estimates at this point in the season are rare. Another favorable fall that provided the opportunity to mature our potentially later-than average crop has brought us to another record yield.

We are thankful for this, but we should not come to expect it on a regular basis. A large portion of the crop has been classed. Arkansas cotton classed at the Dumas classing office to this point indicates the quality is exceeding that of last year’s crop.

The most significant improvement is that less than half the percentage of bales are receiving discounts from high micronaire compared to last year. Almost 65 percent of our crop received a color grade of 31 or better, and 75 percent has a leaf grade of four or less.


Randy Norton AZ
Randy Norton e-mail

We have seen a dramatic shift in upland cotton prices in the United States since earlier this spring when prices were in the range of 80 to 85 cents per pound. Since then, prices have slid approximately 20 cents with current prices in the range of 60 to 65 cents. Realizing a profit at these prices – even when production is in the range of four bales per acre – becomes difficult.

New government farm programs from USDA introduce additional uncertainty into the cotton market, making decisions difficult for producers regarding planting intentions for the 2015 season. As I have visited with producers across the state during harvest season this year, a common response to the question of where their cotton acreage will be next year has been “we will be down significantly from 2014.”

Much of the displaced cotton acreage will be planted to small grains and new alfalfa. Another common response that I have heard from producers is: “I plan to plant more Pima cotton in 2015.” For more information on general cotton production topics, go to


David Wright FL
David Wright e-mail

Most producers have wrapped up cotton harvest with generally good yields. Now, attention is turning to, “How can we make a profit with 65-cent cotton?” There are many options for producers, and one of the first one is to grow the best variety for their soil conditions. There are a lot of good cotton varieties from which to choose, but they perform differently under different conditions. With higher cattle prices, producers should consider winter grazing ahead of cotton as about five years of research in Florida shows that cotton yields are often increased by 200 pounds per acre.

Our data indicate that the root system of cotton strip tilled into oat/rye winter grazing in late April or early May is almost double that of planting into cover crops. This has led to about half the irrigation requirements of non-grazed areas for additional savings. Likewise, potassium levels have been about double the non-grazed areas. Nitrates in the top foot of the soil are two to four times higher, which can lead to a savings of $70 per acre savings in N and K.

Taken altogether, higher yields, less water and lower fertilizer applications can lead to $200 to $300 lower costs and more yield, which can be the difference between making a profit or losing on cotton. Many farmers say they don’t have cattle but have neighbors who do. I have encouraged producers to work together because winter grazing yields are often highest on crop land.

It has been fertilized yearly and often yields the most winter grazing, and if farmers can have cattle out by mid-April, they can take advantage of extra yield, fertilizer and irrigation savings – making money in the process.


Guy Collins GA
Guy Collins e-mail

As I write this on Nov. 6, approximately 60 percent of Georgia cotton has been harvested, according to USDA-NASS, which is about 15 percent ahead of normal. This is indicative of the earliness of the 2014 crop, primarily the dryland acres. Yields remain variable, depending largely on rainfall during the summer and irrigation capabilities. However, many reports have indicated that yields were somewhat higher than first expected.

Harvest weather was mostly good for 2014. Frost came earlier than normal this year for south Georgia (during the weekend of Nov. 1), which is about a week to 10 days earlier than our normal first frost date. This event marked the end of any further development of the remaining crop. Therefore, harvest progress may accelerate from this point on. possible.


Dan Fromme LA
Dan Fromme e-mail

Harvest was completed the first week of November in Louisiana. As we approach the middle of November, USDA-AMS reports that 312,274 bales or 80 percent of the crop has been classed. Twenty-five percent of the bales have measured a micronaire of  ive or greater. These numbers are considerably better when compared to the 2013 crop as more than 50 percent of the bales classed were five or greater. Leaf grade discounts were a concern this year. More than 53 percent of the bales classed so far are yielding a value of four or greater. Final lint yields for Louisiana will be around 1,100 pounds of lint per acre.

Twelve on-farm cotton variety trials were planted throughout the state this year with the assistance of cotton producers and county agents.

Each trial included 11 commercial cotton varieties from four commercial cotton seed companies. Lint yield, gin turnout and fiber quality were collected from these trials. Trial results will be available
in December.


Darrin Dodds MS
Darrin Dodds e-mail

It is difficult to believe that December has arrived, and that 2014 is nearly behind us. This has been one of the longest, short years in my memory. Mississippi farmers produced another bountiful cotton crop in2014; however, there seems to be a mixed bag of optimism regarding 2015 acreage. Prices are down substantially over the past few months, which will have many folks re-evaluating cropping plans for 2015. While we have produced a tremendous crop over the past several years, potential profit margins will dictate our cropping mix in 2015. Cotton acreage will likely be down in 2015; however, the extent of the decrease is unknown at this point.

As we head into the holidays and new year, spend some of your down time evaluating variety performance. I am of the opinion that while we have a tremendous amount of variety performance data, we lack variety management data. Placing the right variety in the right environment is the first of many steps toward producing an excellent crop in 2015. Here’s wishing everyone Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Mike Milam MO
Mike Milam e-mail

As of Nov. 3, the Crop Progress and Condition Report shows that harvest is at 60 percent complete. This is not far from our five-year average of 65 percent. While we have been behind our five-year average all season, we were consistently earlier than last year. Although we had about 10 days of rain to slow down harvest early on, this was followed with about two weeks of dry conditions that allowed producers to make a lot of progress. This week, we have had enough rain to keep producers out of the field, but we have a lot of wind that helps to dry both the cotton and soil.

We had two nights this week at freezing or below, but almost all of the cotton had been defoliated. As usual, some fields are producing better than the producer had expected. Unfortunately, the opposite is true in other fields. The amount of rainfall and distance between rains will make a difference as we go forward. We are hoping for good conditions to finish the harvest season.




Keith Edmisten NC
Keith Edmisten e-mail

We had an outstanding cotton crop for the most part this year in North Carolina. Even so, some producer may be scratching their heads about next year with cotton prices where they are. This is a good time of year to list all the inputs you spent money on in cotton. When cotton prices are high, we tend to be a little more generous with inputs than might be prudent in periods of low prices. This is a time to concentrate on the basics: good weed control, a sound fertility program and insect control based on sound scouting.

Most of our fertility needs can be met most economically at or near planting or at side-dressing. Relying on foliar applications generally costs more and is less effective than at planting and sidedressed applications. Many of the foliar applications I saw were probably unwarranted based on research, and, while they might have been warranted, the actual application rates were often too low to justify the expenditure. Applying foliar fertilizer for deficiency symptoms past peak bloom has not resulted in yield increases.



Randy Boman OK
Randy Boman e-mail

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, severely dry conditions are unfortunately still lingering, with the bright red and blood red Extreme and Exceptional Drought categories still painting all of southwestern Oklahoma. As cotton harvest transitioned into full swing, many Oklahoma cotton producers have been handed a pleasant surprise by Mother Nature. Although the dry run in August manifested itself by lower yields in most dryland fields, good temperatures and early September rainfall laid the groundwork for a great finish for many areas.

The combined September and October cotton heat unit accumulation at Altus was 34 percent above normal. This was the second consecutive growing season with above-normal temperatures in both September and October.

This was really needed by late crops in many areas. Although the USDA-NASS November crop report reduced bale production considerably from the September estimate, if the current projection holds, we are still on track to have the largest crop since 2010. This is good news for an industry that has been plagued by drought since 2011.


Tyson Raper TN
Tyson Raper e-mail

The cotton harvest is winding down here in West Tennessee. Most fields have been picked, and it has become much more difficult to find stalks (or modules) in the field. The National Cotton Council estimate for percent harvest for the week ending Nov. 9 had Tennessee at 60 percent. Luckily, this is much greater than the noted 33 percent from last year, but it is slightly behind our five-year average of 70 percent. Late cotton was forced to deal with a frost in the first few days of November. Unfortunately, temperatures were generally low enough to halt most remaining closed bolls from opening. Reports of yields in these later fields are not as great as those coming from earlier fields, but our state average still looks very good.

Concerning our variety testing program, only a few on-farm trials remain in the field. The data collected suggests we will have theability to select from several very strong varieties of differing traits for the 2015 season.

As soon as we finish ginning, reports on these trials will be available through Tennessee County Extension offices and on our UT website at Best of luck to all West Tennessee farmers as we review 2014 and prepare for the new crop season.


Galon Morgan TX
Gaylon Morgan e-mail

Good rains were received over the past month in many of the cotton production regions in south and east Texas. These fall rains are especially important for the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend where full profiles of soil moisture are critical to a decent crop in 2015. This wet fall has made stalk destruction difficult in some areas.

The Rolling Plains producers had the warm fall that was needed to finish maturing the late crop. Defoliation was a challenge this year for many producers, but the freeze in early November desiccated any remaining fields. Early November rains have slowed cotton harvest but were good for many farmers who also grow wheat. Irrigated cotton yields are reported as above average in much of the Rolling Plains.

Dryland cotton yields are highly variable, and lower loan values are being reported by the gins.


Mark Kelley e-mail

The first hard freeze of the season has finally arrived in the Texas High Plains and Panhandle regions. With lows reaching into the teens this morning (11-12-14), the cotton crop has finally been terminated! This will allow those producers that were having difficulties “killing” their cotton crops to get in and get it harvested.

The soil moisture resulting from the late rainfall events was making crop termination more difficult than usual in some areas with regrowth being the biggest issue. Although there may be pockets of cotton that could have some maturity issues, I feel that the crop was relatively mature based on my travels, conversations with producers, and boll slicing in several fields.

Based on the latest USDA-AMS Daily Cotton Quality Summary, 126,042 bales were classed at Lamesa and 179,230 bales at Lubbock. The average micronaire at Lamesa is 4.3 and 4.2 at Lubbock. Color grades are mostly 21 at both locations with staple running 35.2 (Lamesa) and 35.7 (Lubbock). Average strength values are just under 30 grams per tex, and uniformity values are just over 80 percent at both locations. If the weather holds and no significant amounts of precipitation are received, cotton harvesting in the High Plains and Panhandle should greatly increase in the near future.


Hunter Frame

I began my short career as Virginia’s cotton specialist in 2012, and I hoped I would get to see another year of 1,116 pounds of lint per-acre average for the state. As of right now, the USDA has Virginia projected to set another record of 1,200 pounds per acre in 2014. This is quite an accomplishment and testament to Virginia cotton producers, considering that less than five percent of our acreage is irrigated, and we only had 2,200 DD60s.

There is still a ways to go, and this projected average may drop a little, but overall 2014 will go down as one of the best cotton production years for Virginia. As we move into 2015, our cotton producers should be focusing on variety selection and soil testing/recommendations that need to be made.

I always recommend soil testing in the fall and as close to when the crop comes out of the field. Why? First is timeliness. Plus, the sooner farmers take samples, the sooner the results are back, and fertility recommendations can be determined.

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