Texas crop, weather for Oct. 7, 2014

Some Gulf Coast and Central Texas cotton yields two to four bales per acre
High Plains Cotton ‘chugging along’

In the Little River Bottom area in Milam County, northwest of College Station, rows of round cotton modules await delivery to a local gin. This field averaged more than three bales per acre, according to Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service statewide cotton specialist, College Station. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Gaylon Morgan)

In the Little River Bottom area in Milam County, northwest of College Station, rows of round cotton modules await delivery to a local gin. This field averaged more than three bales per acre, according to Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service statewide cotton specialist, College Station. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Gaylon Morgan)

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

COLLEGE STATION – While nearly all Gulf Coast and Central Texas cotton has been harvested, much of the Texas High Plains cotton is still two weeks away, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomists.

Rain delayed the cotton harvest in the upper Gulf Coast and parts of the Blackland region for a while, but producers have pretty much caught up now, said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension statewide cotton specialist, College Station.

“I’d say 95-plus percent of the upper Gulf Coast crop is done, if not all of it,” Morgan said. “In the Blacklands, for the most part, those guys have wrapped up too. There’s still some in the Brazos bottom – part of the irrigated cotton is still around. But as a whole, they’re about 85-plus percent done on the irrigated ground; maybe 95 percent done on the dryland.”

Overall, Blacklands and upper Gulf Coast producers have been very pleased with their yields, he said.



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“As usual in the Blacklands, there was a big range in yields this year, but there were a lot of cotton fields with over two-bales-per-acre yields,” Morgan said. “Some irrigated fields have pushed over four bales per acre.”

In the Texas High Plains, the region has had some good moisture recently, which overall was good news, said Mark Kelley, AgriLife Extension cotton specialist, Lubbock.

“We’ve come a long way in the last two or three weeks toward maturing this crop out, especially on the irrigated fields,” Kelley said. “The dryland fields had issues before the rain. We went through a drought period, 65 or 70 days without rainfall, and then the high temperatures we had on Labor Day pretty much finished it off, but not all of it. There’s still some good dryland.”

There have been some producers worried about low temperatures and an early October freeze, he said, but recent weather has been very favorable for the crop.

“We got 11 heat units yesterday (Oct. 6) and 15 heat units today, so we’re chugging along. We’re still maturing fiber out here,” he said.

Heat units are calculated by taking the mean of the daily high and the daily low, then subtracting 60, according to Kelley. Typically, most cotton varieties need a total of about 2,200 to 2,400 units in a season, depending up the nature of the heat units.

“With temperatures above 100, you’re generally going the wrong direction. The plant then is pretty much using all its energy just to stay cool.”

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:

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

Central: About 80 percent of the counties reported soil moisture as fair. Overall, rangeland and pastures were in fair condition too. Crops and livestock were rated 95 percent good. Hot, dry weather continued to strain producers’ water supplies. Parts of the region were becoming extremely dry. A few areas received rains, which helped maintain creeks and livestock tanks. The corn harvest was completed in some areas. Small grain planting was underway. Armyworms were reported in some fields. The cotton harvest was ongoing.

Coastal Bend: Recent rains benefited soil moisture. The cotton harvest was wrapping up, but cotton stalk destruction had to be extended due to wet fields. Producers have been busy with fall fieldwork, including preparations for planting wheat and winter grazing. Pastures showed improvement. Cattle were in good condition and should enjoy high quality forages heading into fall.

East: Much of the region continued to dry out. Several counties reported rain, but the high winds evaporated much of the moisture. Henderson County remained under a burn ban as the number of grass fires increased. Many producers were delaying planting winter pastures due to the dry conditions. Hay harvesting was winding down, but supplies were adequate, with some producers having surpluses. Armyworm pressure lessened because of dry weather. In Trinity County, where heavy rains were received, armyworm infestations were heavy. Throughout the region, producers were working cattle and preparing for the fall calving season. Cattle were in good condition. Feral hogs were active.

Far West: The area had cooler nights, with temperatures in the low- to mid-50s, and daytime highs in the mid- to upper-80s and low-90s. Subsoil and topsoil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Pastures were in poor to adequate condition. Corn was 70 to 90 percent harvested, and upland cotton was in poor to good condition, with most bolls opening. Grain sorghum was mature. From 20 to 60 percent of winter wheat was planted, with some of the crop already emerged. In El Paso County, Pawnee pecans were showing shuck separation, while Western variety pecans showed no signs of shucking. Alfalfa growers were taking a seventh cutting. In Ward County, the Pecos River continued to rise as water flowed out of the Red Bluff reservoir. Water was up to the banks in some areas.

North: Topsoil moisture was mostly short to adequate. A few counties received from 0.5 to 1 inch of rain, while the rest of the region continued to dry out. Rockwall County reported damaged trees and livestock structures from an Oct. 2 thunderstorm. A few farmers began planting small grains, and many livestock producers have planted or were planting winter annual grasses. The cotton harvest was underway, and the soybean harvest ongoing. Overall, cattle were in good condition. Grasshoppers remained an issue in Titus County, and fall armyworms were attacking winter annuals and Bermuda grass in Collin County.

Panhandle: Temperatures were near average. Winter wheat was coming on strong. Peanuts looked better than expected and were being dug, with harvesting expected to begin on most fields soon. Cotton growers started defoliation, and harvest should begin in some counties in the next two weeks. Deaf Smith County silage choppers were working as fast as they could before the crop became too dry. Hay was cut and waiting to be baled. Some of the earlier cut fields were still sitting in the fields with the regrowth 2-3 foot tall because of rain. Food corn harvesting was expected to start soon, depending on the weather. Yield potentials were looking very good. Grain sorghum looked good generally, with most fields still a few weeks from maturity. Sunflowers were approximately 10 days to two weeks from maturity. Sunflower yields promised to be good, but producers had to make an extra one or two insecticide applications this year. Winter wheat was coming along well. Early variety Hansford County corn made 220-225 bushels per acre, while longer-maturing varieties were yielding 245-262 bushels per acre. Rangeland and pastures were in poor to excellent condition, with most counties reporting fair. Cattle were in good condition.

Rolling Plains: Weather patterns were compared to a roller coaster ride. Daytime highs were in the 60s one day and in the 90s the next. The cooler temperatures did not help the cotton crop. With a large portion of the cotton crop already late, producers were worried yields may be poor due to lack of heat units, especially at the last of the growing season when plants need warmer weather the most. Pastures and other crops, however, were still benefiting from rains received during the last couple of weeks. Producers planted more wheat, and much of it had already emerged. However, in the areas passed over by the rains, some farmers were dry-planting wheat while others were waiting on rain. Armyworms were reported in wheat that was already emerged. Livestock were in good condition. Lakes and stock tanks were still low.

South: The first cold front of the season arrived late in the week, bringing showers and slightly lower temperatures. However, daytime highs in the 90s persisted throughout most of the week. In the northern part of the region, conditions were ideal for planting. Some areas received from 0.25 to 0.75 inch of rain. Winter strawberries were doing well, and cotton harvesting was completed in some areas. Peanut producers were tilling fields. Cattle body condition scores remained fair in McMullen County. Soil moisture conditions ranged from 60 percent short to 100 percent adequate. Rangeland and pastures remained in fair condition. In the eastern part of the region, rain and temperatures boosted forage growth. Kleberg and Kenedy counties received 7 inches of rain. However, more rain was needed for most rangeland and pastures to completely recover from the drought. Though grazing improved, producers were still providing supplemental feed for cattle and wildlife. Cotton harvesting continued in a few areas. Soil moisture varied widely, from 50 percent short to to 70 percent adequate. In the western part of the region, some areas received scattered showers. Maverick County did not receive any rainfall, but conditions were favorable for sorghum and coastal Bermuda grass production. Webb County ranchers were buying hay to stock up for the winter. Dryland wheat and oat producers were planting where subsoil moisture was good. In Zavala County, cabbage and spinach producers were planting, and cotton producers were trying to meet cotton stalk destruction deadlines. Cotton gins were operating in full capacity. Soil moisture ranged from 60 percent short to to 100 percent adequate. In the southern part of the district, fields remained saturated. All vegetable crops were progressing well. Soil moisture conditions were excellent throughout all counties.

South Plains: The weather remained mild after the remnants of tropical storm Odile skirted through the region the previous week. High temperatures were mostly in the 70s and 80s, with lows generally in the 50s, but sometimes dropping into the upper 40s. Producers were hoping cotton would receive enough heat units to finish. Floyd County cotton needed another three to four weeks of warm weather to finish. Producers there were worried an early freeze may damage later-planted cotton and grain sorghum. Swisher County had low temperatures in the upper 30s, reinforcing fears of an early October freeze. Corn harvesting was ongoing, some being taken as silage as well as field corn. Winter wheat was in excellent condition after late September rains. Lubbock County cotton bolls were opening across the county, and some producers started defoliating. Lynn County producers were planting wheat when fields dried enough for them to get in. Many Lynn County cotton fields had regrowth after the rains, and producers will have to apply harvest aids before harvesting can begin. Garza County cotton conditions varied widely, depending on maturity and field situations. Some cotton fields there could still make good yields, while others were damaged by the heavy rains. Rangeland and pastures were in mostly excellent condition. Livestock were in mostly good to excellent condition.

Southwest: The eastern half of the district received more rain, benefiting dryland fields and improving topsoil and subsoil moisture. The western half of the district was beginning to dry out. Cotton was in various stages of harvest, depending upon weather conditions. Hayfields were showing regrowth, and some producers may get another cutting. Livestock and pastures were in fair to good condition in most of the district. Forage and browsing availability in deer country was good. Deer were on the move, judging from instances of road kill. Deer hunting was expected to be excellent.

West Central: The region had mild weather with warm temperatures and drier conditions. Very little moisture was reported. Topsoil moisture was declining. Field activity continued, with producers finishing up preplant fieldwork, and some already planting. Some producers were dry sowing, while others were awaiting more rainfall. Those producers who haven’t already planted will likely spend the next few weeks catching up. Cotton continued to mature and began to open bolls. Some cotton producers began defoliating; a few were already harvesting. Some producers were taking a last hay cutting. Rangeland and pastures were in moderate to good condition and showing some regrowth. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. The pecan harvest had not begun, but Pawnee and other early varieties were expected to be ready soon.

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