Texas crop, weather for Nov. 14,

No way to summarize statewide cotton yields, quality

Semi-trailer truck driver unloading round cotton modules.

A semi-trailer truck driver prepares to unload round cotton modules at the Avalon Co-Op Gin in Ellis County. The modules average 5,100 pounds each. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns)


Writer: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191, rd-burns@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION — There’s no way to summarize the Texas cotton harvest situation this year, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service cotton expert.

“The Rio Grande had a pretty good year, and the upper Gulf Coast had a great year,” said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist, College Station. “Right in between, with the Corpus Christi area, it was a complete disaster. And from what I’ve seen in the Rolling Plains, it is more or less the exact same thing.

“And the South Plains, more or less the same thing. From my conversations with the regional cotton specialist there, Mark (Kelley), it just depends upon whether you were under one of those timely scattered showers and how much irrigation water you had.”

Two-minute MP3 Audio of Texas crop, weather for Nov. 14, 2012Two-minute MP3 Audio of Texas crop, weather for Nov. 14, 2012

In the Rio Grande Valley, yields were “about average,” according to producer reports, which was good news considering the way the year started, he said. In the Coastal Bend area, nearly everything had to be zeroed-out by insurance adjusters and destroyed.


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“But then you move 60 miles to the upper Gulf Coast, and they had one of the better crops they’ve had in many years in terms of yields,” Morgan said.

In the Rolling Plains, 60 to 70 percent of the crop was mowed down, including nearly all the dryland. Some of the irrigated fields there gave decent yields.

“From talking to irrigated producers out there, it depended upon how much water they had,” he said. “I saw some irrigated fields that looked horrible because the folks ran out of water and didn’t get any help from Mother Nature.”
On cotton fiber quality, 2012 ginned cotton has pretty much been an average year.

“One thing that really stood out, speaking of mainly South Texas, 2011 was a superb year for very low leaf grades and discounts,” he said. “And in 2012, we are back to the five-year average.”

About 25 percent of the cotton classed from the Corpus Christi Classing Office has been classed as high-micronaire cotton, according to Morgan.

Micronaire is a measure of the cotton fiber fineness.

“And that’s basically in line with what the Delta region is seeing too. Upper Gulf Coast had some good rainfall in July, which lead to better yields and higher quality, but contributed to the high micronaire,” Morgan said.

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the week of Nov. 5 – 12:

Map of the 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

Central: Small grains were struggling because of lack of moisture. Stock-pond water levels were becoming an issue. 
A heavy frost occurred the first of the week. Producers continued to apply fertilizer. Armyworm reports were moderately low. The pecan crop harvest was going full steam.

Coastal Bend: The drought continued. Some areas had spotty showers in association with a cold front. About 0.25 inch accumulations were average. Some farmers were not fertilizing because of low soil moisture. Winter wheat, oats, ryegrass and clover planted for winter grazing looked good, but rain was needed for continued growth. The pecan harvest was in full swing, with varying yields. Producers continued to bale a last cutting of hay for the season. Hay supplies were in surplus. Livestock producers continued to supplement cattle with hay and protein.

Far West: Highs were in the mid-to-lower 70s, with lows in the lower 40s. Crane County reported its first freeze of the season, causing much of the plant life in the area to go into dormancy. For most counties, the weather was dry and windy. Presidio County reported high wildfire danger because of grass curing and high winds. Pastures and rangeland grasses were beginning to brown up again from lack of precipitation. However, Winkler County reported that the pastures were still in good condition due to previous rains. But more rain will be needed soon to help reduce livestock feeding costs going into winter. The cotton harvest proceeded and was completed in some counties.

North: Higher temperatures and winds dried out soils. Soil-moisture levels were very short to adequate. There was just enough moisture to maintain small grains, but growth was slowed. Stock ponds were drying up. Some counties were under burn bans. Rangeland and pastures throughout the region were in fair condition. Hay supplies were good. Most small grains and winter annual pasture grasses had emerged. Livestock were in good condition, though most summer grasses had played out and producers were supplementing with hay while waiting for winter pastures to reach acceptable grazing height.

Panhandle: Temperatures were above average until the weekend when a cold front moved in. No rain was reported, and moisture was needed throughout the region. Soil-moisture levels were mostly very short to short, with a few areas reporting adequate levels. Producers continued to harvest corn, cotton and grain sorghum. Winter wheat planting continued, with some plantings delayed until early December. Compost and manure trucks were running hard and fast trying to stay ahead of the discs and wheat drills. Rangeland and pastures were in mostly very poor to poor condition. Cattle were in good condition with continued supplementation.

Rolling Plains: Dry conditions returned, and wheat producers needed rain for the emerging wheat crop. Earlier, most producers were able to get a good stand, but hot, windy days left fields dry and wheat stressed. Some wheat was curling and/or turning blue. Forages and pastures also needed rain. Green bugs and mites continued to be a problem in some wheat fields. The cotton harvest was well under way, with a little above-average yields for irrigated cotton. Most dryland cotton was disastered out earlier by insurance companies. The pecan harvest was in full swing. Most non-irrigated pecans were on the small side due to drought.

South: Mild temperatures and no rain continued to dry out soils. Soil-moisture levels were 40 to 100 percent short in the northern and western counties, and 40 to 100 percent very short in the eastern and southern counties. A couple of northern counties, Oak and McMullen, reported adequate soil moisture levels. Rangeland and pastures grasses and forbs declined. Summer perennial grasses were becoming dormant because of the dry weather and cooler daytime temperatures. Livestock producers continued supplemental feeding, and were preparing for the winter months ahead, in some cases selling off and shipping cattle. Body condition of cattle remained good. In Atascosa and Frio counties, the peanut harvest was nearly completed. Some hay cutting and baling also continued in Frio County. In Live Oak County, winter wheat was in fair to poor condition, with 90 percent of the crop emerged. About 95 percent of wheat and oats have been planted in that area. In Maverick County, coastal Bermuda grass and forage sorghum hay producers continued harvesting, and producers of winter wheat and oats continued planting preparations. In Zavala County, the fresh-market spinach harvest began. Also, cabbage, onion and spinach were progressing well there. In Cameron County, growers were actively irrigating fall corn and vegetables. In Hidalgo County, the winter vegetable harvest began, while the sugarcane harvest continued. In Starr County, the late-planted cantaloupe harvest was ongoing, and preparations for late-onion planting began.

South Plains: The region remained dry, with daily highs in the 80s and lows in the 40s and 50s. The cotton harvest was from 50 to 85 percent completed. Most counties reported harvesting was progressing well thanks to open, clear weather. Insurance adjusters continued to inspect dryland cotton fields. Many fields were being zeroed-out because of low yield potential. Producers were planting winter wheat, while some early planted wheat began to show signs of moisture stress. Although producers have enjoyed the good harvest weather, rain was still needed to break the drought’s hold on the area.

Southeast: San Jacinto County reported cooler soil temperatures slowed the growth of summer forages. Winter forages, such as oats, wheat, annual rye and various clover varieties, were doing well. Waller County had cooler and drier weather. Burleson County’s dry conditions returned, and armyworms caused minor damage to oat and ryegrass pastures. Orange County dry conditions also continued, which limited late-season grass growth. Dry conditions may result in burn bans after the first hard frost.

Southwest: High winds and warmer-than-average temperatures reduced soil moisture and dried out vegetation. Most perennial grasses were dormant, and winter grasses and forbs were moisture stressed. In Hays County, hay cuttings were producing above-average yields. Most corn and cotton was harvested.
West Central: The region had mild daytime temperatures with cool nights most of the week. Some areas have had the first freeze of the season. Dry, windy conditions continued. Soil moisture was being depleted and field activity slowed because of drought conditions. The cotton harvest was in full swing. Fair to low yields were reported. Some producers were spraying late cotton with defoliants. In some areas, a freeze aided defoliation. Wheat was off to a good start in most areas. Winter wheat showed signs of drought stress. Mites were reported in some fields. Rangeland and pasture conditions declined. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding of livestock increased. The pecan harvest continued, with variable quality and yields reported.

West Central: The region had mild daytime temperatures with cool nights most of the week. Some areas have had the first freeze of the season. Dry, windy conditions continued. Soil moisture was being depleted and field activity slowed because of drought conditions. The cotton harvest was in full swing. Fair to low yields were reported. Some producers were spraying late cotton with defoliants. In some areas, a freeze aided defoliation. Wheat was off to a good start in most areas. Winter wheat showed signs of drought stress. Mites were reported in some fields. Rangeland and pasture conditions declined. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding of livestock increased. The pecan harvest continued, with variable quality and yields reported.

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