PCG EMAIL SERVICES: GOSANANGELO.COM - WINDMILL COUNTRY: Regional Cotton Harvest Looks Good
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GOSANANGELO.COM - WINDMILL COUNTRY: Regional Cotton Harvest Looks Good
Published Monday, November 4, 2013
By Jerry Lackey
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Cotton harvest across the 12-county Southern Rolling Plains region was in full swing over the weekend.
From 15 to 20 percent of the 2013 crop has been harvested so far, said Randall Conner of Winters, executive director of Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association.
“More cotton has been harvested and on its way to the gin in the northern counties and less in the southern counties, but all the yields are looking better than expected,” he said.
SRP executive board members are projecting a yield of about 180,000 cotton bales this fall from 180,000 planted acres.
Last year the SRP cotton growers produced 141,471 bales on 208,000 harvested acres for an average of 333 pounds per acre. The weight of a cotton bale averages 480 to 500 pounds.
On a round to the country Friday, I caught Brent and Kevin Niehues on the family farm west of Wall in full harvest mode. Running two strippers, they were working from opposite ends to the middle of a dryland patch which was producing an estimated yield of about 1 bale per acre.
“This field received from 2 to 3 inches of that July rain which saved the crop,” Brent said. “We are expecting much better yields on our farm near Vancourt when we get around harvesting it. We measured nearly 7 inches of rain there in July.”
It was the July rainfall — ranging from 3 inches to more than 9 inches in the SRP region — that was the turning point in this year’s cotton. Even at that, much of the dryland cotton was already lost because of the drought.
The Southern Rolling Plains comprises Tom Green, Runnels, Concho, Coke, Coleman, Brown, McCulloch, Mason, Menard, Irion, Schleicher and southern Taylor counties.
Fair weather has increased harvest activity on the High Plains the past two weeks, according to Mary Jane Buerkle, with Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers.
“Many growers have reported yields that are higher than expected, with some fields yielding more than 1,500 pounds to the acre and even better,” Buerkle said.
The latest Quality Reports from Lubbock, Lamesa and Abilene Classing Offices also indicate a big increase in cotton harvest activity.
Samples from all cotton produced in the Concho Valley and Big Country enter the Abilene Classing Office, where the quality of the crop is determined.
In Abilene, 173,543 samples have been classed this season. From West Texas, 10,466 samples were graded last week, bringing the samples for the season to 15,339.
A total of 149,544 samples have been classed from East Texas and 8,660 samples from Oklahoma at the Abilene facility.
In Lubbock, 163,253 samples were graded last week bringing the season total to 228,769.
In Lamesa, 39,114 samples were classed by Friday bringing the season total for that office to 63,878. Exactly 77 percent of the bales classed for the week and almost 79 percent for the season are color grade 21 and better.
A sample of at least 4 ounces is taken from each side of the cotton bale by a licensed sampling agent, and the 8-ounce sample is delivered by the agent or designated hauler to the USDA classing facility.
On the ranching side of agriculture, I bumped into Billy Sawyer last week who operates a ranch in Sutton County. He received more than 8 inches of rain in September. “It came right because we were feeding our cattle along, refusing to sell,” he said. “Now, the cattle are fat and the ranch has plenty of grass and forbs going into winter. I can’t remember it looking this good.”
It’s good to hear from farmers and ranchers who have received good rains this year.
The National Weather Service at San Angelo’s regional airport reports another main trough axis begins to approach this afternoon. It could trigger thundershowers.
Jerry Lackey writes about agriculture. Contact him at jlackey at wcc.net or 325-949-2291.
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