The National Agricultural Statistics Service October Crop Production report kept the yield estimate for Arkansas cotton at 1,218 lbs lint/A. Last month, I felt this estimate was too high for a number of reasons. However, as our harvest is nearing completion, it is becoming obvious that a little BBQ sauce may be needed for my crow. We have experienced a fall with almost unequalled consecutive days of harvest. There are many fields that have received no rain from first open boll to harvest. Basically everything the plant produced is going into the module. Fields are picking clean, and color grades are great. Hopefully, we can get a rain soon to germinate our cover crops and obtain the amount of growth needed before favorable temperatures are no longer occurring. While we have harvested a number of our county on-farm variety plots, we have yet to start the gin. Based on seedcotton weights, we have a number of varieties containing new technology that are performing well. Remember, this represents only one year of testing. We look forward to combining the county data with Dr. Fred Bourland’s Variety Performance Trial results to get a better idea of yield and fiber quality characteristics. County production meetings are being scheduled at this time. Contact your local county Extension agent for dates and locations for your county or for adjoining counties if you are unable to attend the one in your county.
Most of the growers in the Southeast have just begun to harvest cotton as peanut harvest was delayed by wet weather in September and October. Most growers are two to three weeks behind their normal harvest timing and hope that they get a few good weeks of harvest before the impacts of the El Niño come into play. 2015 was like every year in farming; there are a few curve balls with the first being wet weather in April followed by a dry and hot May-July period. July had record heat, and we were not certain how this would impact boll set or final yield. Some cotton that has been picked has yielded very well. Cotton is still an excellent rotation crop for growers, and where irrigation is not available, it is a better choice than non-irrigated corn in most years. Yields will be variable across the state as areas of dry weather impacted some cotton while other areas got timely rains. Overall, we should have average or slightly above average yields as the new cotton varieties seem to perform well with less than ideal conditions.
Most growers are probably taking soil samples during the day and perhaps trying to make decisions on seed for next year at night. With much of our acreage in reduced tillage systems, I think it would be a good idea to pick at least a few representative fields and do some stratified soil testing. Lime and Phosphorus (P) are not very mobile in the soil and in reduced till systems we may see some stratification of pH and P levels. Taking a set of shallow (two inches deep) samples to compare to normal soil samples will help determine if this is happening in your fields. If you find that your shallow soil samples have adequate pH and P levels while your regular soil samples show low pH and P levels, you might want to consider some tillage to incorporate lime and/ or P applications. Some growers may be hesitant to want to perform any tillage that might disrupt soil structure gains in reduced tillage systems. Taking samples in this manner could give you a warning that stratification is developing so that prophylactic adjustments can be made. Stratification of pH is potentially more harmful than stratification of P. This is certainly a good time of year to evaluate variety performance and fiber quality. Your ginner may be able to help you if you provide variety information for modules or bales. Fiber quality discounts are especially painful in periods like this with low cotton prices.
As we approach the middle part of October, approximately 90 percent of the cotton acres have been harvested. Harvest conditions have been good throughout the state during the past two months. Hopefully, we should finish harvesting by the end of October. Louisiana will harvest around 110,000 acres of cotton this year, which will be the lowest on record. Only 19 cotton gins were open for business this year. Yield estimates for the state are projected to be around 950- 1,000 pounds of lint per acre. Compared to the 2013 and 2014 crop, this year’s crop we will be off about 200-250 pounds of lint per acre. According to USDA-AMS figures (as of Oct. 15) out of Rayville, 55 percent of the bales received have produced a micronaire value of 5.0 or greater. In 2014, only 25.7 percent of the bales produced a micronaire of 5.0 or greater. This year, length is a little shorter, while strength and uniformity are tending to be a little higher when compared to the 2014 crop.
Mississippi growers have enjoyed a tremendous harvest season in 2015. Very little to no rain has been received throughout the harvest season, and many growers will be completely done with field activities by Nov. 1. Yields have been variable depending on location with several areas receiving very little to no rainfall since July 4. Although we will not produce yields in 2015 as a state like we did in 2013 and 2014, most have been pleasantly surprised with yields given the challenging growing conditions we encountered this season. Based on conversations with growers this fall, it appears that cotton acres will increase to some extent in 2016 in Mississippi. Although the exact acreage increase will not be known until the last seed is planted, early indications point to as much as a 25 percent increase in acres in 2016. With fieldwork nearly complete, focus should turn to fertility and pH management as well as variety selection for next year. Given current commodity markets, fertilizer applications should be based on sound soil test recommendations. While it may be tempting to reduce fertilizer inputs with markets being down, fertilizer is like fuel for your equipment – you can go a long way with it, but not very far without it. With regard to variety selection, take a look at all reputable data and pay particularly close attention to data collected from situations similar to those you farm under (i.e. irrigation, soil texture, etc.). With the influx of new varieties and germplasm, variety selection will be a critical decision heading into the new year.
As the 2015 crop races toward maturity and harvest, conditions have turned off hot and dry once again. Rainfall in many areas has been scant since the middle of August, and many dryland fields have encountered a tough finish with respect to soil moisture. However, irrigated fields have benefitted from September cotton heat units, which were about 35 percent above normal. The first two weeks of October have provided significantly above normal heat units, also. From an irrigated cotton perspective, the finish has been excellent as long as good moisture was available. Nearly all dryland fields and many irrigated fields exhibited significant moisture stress by the end of September. Most cotton in the state was planted in the last few days of May, with a great majority of it planted in the first two weeks of June. The open skies and hot finish has provided an opportunity for the crop to reach a good level of maturity. However, it has been quite a long run of days without significant precipitation in many areas, and this has made winter crop establishment difficult. Aug. 19 was the last rainfall event at Altus that provided at least 0.75 inch of moisture. September only tallied 0.45 inch, and through Oct. 14, that month only recorded 0.09 inches. As of this writing, growers were just beginning to harvest dryland fields, and irrigated fields will soon see the harvesters. It is anticipated that our crop size will certainly be better than the past few drought years. Quality remains to be seen, but maturity issues should not be problematic. As we proceed later into the fall, we are all grateful for the precipitation and runoff that we received in May and are optimistically watching the yield and quality of this year’s crop.
It appears that Tennessee may set a new yield record in the 2015 season. After a rough start, most acres received timely rains and the heat required to mature the crop. Additionally, the harvest season up to this point has remained fairly dry. Early numbers are outstanding and confirm observations made by seasoned consultants. Our first-harvested, large (55 acre+) variety trial, located on gently rolling dryland ground, will likely turnout greater than 2.75 bale/A with several plots breaking three bale/A. Although the market outlook has been bleak, I believe those who decide to plant cotton next year will be looking at some of the highest yielding, most broadly adaptable varieties ever sold. To see how tested varieties performed in your area of Tennessee or to be the first to see UT trial results concerning other production decisions, keep an eye on news.utcrops.com or visit our full website at utcrops.com
The South and East Texas cotton crop was more than a month behind normal due to late planting and delayed plant development. When it came time to harvest the crop, scattered showers further delayed getting the crop out of the field. However, we were fortunate that no prolonged periods of wet weather or intensive rainfall occurred and nearly every field was harvested by early October. Yields were disappointing throughout South and East Texas with the exception of the Rio Grande Valley, where they were quite good. Overall, fiber quality has been good. In the Rolling Plains, the year started late for most cotton fields, but the full profile of soil moisture was welcome. The Northern Rolling Plains continued to get some rain through mid-July; however, the Southern Rolling Plains was less fortunate. The warm fall did provide an opportunity for the crop to mature, and as of early. October, harvest aids were being applied throughout the Rolling Plains. The yields are estimated at above average for the Northern Rolling Plains, but yield diminished moving into the Southern Rolling Plains. Glyphosate-resistant weeds were a problem in every cotton production region in 2015. The expected repeated battle in 2016 has our dryland cotton producers really concerned because the additional weed control costs will be difficult to cover. Pre-plant incorporated and pre-emergence herbicides will be the key to economically managing these glyphosate-resistant weeds, but the XtendFlex and Enlist cotton technology will also be in demand as a management tool.
Harvest season was in high gear on the Texas High Plains prior to the arrival of thunderstorms and showers. However, it should not be long before producers are back in the fields, especially in areas with lower rainfall amounts. Quality of the bales that have been classed so far has been good with color grades of 11 and 21, leaf grades at or below three and staple averages of 34-36. Strength values are holding near 30 g/text, and uniformity is at or just above 80 percent. Micronaire values are ranging from 3.8 to 4.6, depending on location. Unless we get into a wet pattern, I expect quality to improve, not decline.View More in our Archives