PCG EMAIL SERVICES: TIMESRECORDNEWS.COM - Cotton harvest is bumping along
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Wed Jan 27 08:47:04 CST 2016
TIMESRECORDNEWS.COM - Cotton harvest is bumping along
By Hanaba Munn Welch
Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 3:00 a.m.
Cotton is mostly off the stalk across the Texas Rolling Plains, either already ginned or packed in modules, ready for ginning. Overall, this year's crop falls somewhere in the average category, thanks in part to weather that wasn't — notably a warm fall and a warm early winter.
Strippers ran in a few fields during last week's sunny weather, harvesting the last of the crop.
In Vernon, the bale count Thursday morning was 8,064.
"It's really better than I thought it was going to be," said Larry Brown, manager of the Wilbarger Coop Gin and Elevator. "It's pretty much off the stalk. All we lack is finishing up."
The crop is comparable to last year's crop.
"The bale count is going to be about the same," Brown said. "We made the crop on less acres. I think the yield is better."
The crop finished stronger than it began with bolls continuing to develop and open late in the growing season.
"I think we were fortunate to make a crop," Brown said.
North of Vernon at the Fargo Gin, Scotty Thomas, office assistant, offered similar observations.
"It's a pretty late crop, but we had a good fall — hot in September and October," Thomas said. "That matured it out."
The bale count at midweek at the Fargo Gin was 4,222. Pam Alexander, office manager, said she thought the count would almost double by the end of ginning.
The late-December ice and wind storm that caused power outages across much of the area left the gin without power for eight days.
"It's the first time I'd ever taken a vacation in December," Alexander said.
Weather conditions typically determine how fast a harvest can progress — generally not with crippling power outages but always with moisture-related field conditions.
"Last year we had so much fog we couldn't get it out," Thomas said. "We've had rain this year."
In Oklahoma, at Tillman Producers Coop Gin in Frederick, the wet weather at the end of 2015 has affected both the quality of this year's crop and the speed of the harvest. But Brandon Varner, gin manager, isn't complaining.
"We've been dry for so long," he said.
His bale count at the end of the day Thursday was 16,525.
"We're rolling along pretty decent," he said. "The cotton is a little better yield-wise (than last year)."
Varner doesn't expect to gin as many bales this year.
"Fewer acres were planted," he said.
The gin primarily serves Tillman County but takes modules hauled in from a distance — some from as far away as the Elk City area. Most of the cotton ginned at Tillman Producers, about 80 percent, is from dry land fields, Varner said.
At Elliott Producers Gin at Elliott, 12 miles northwest of Electra, the bale count Friday was 8,504, indicating this year will be in the average range. Farther to the south, the harvest is farther along.
At Rhineland, the bale count stood at 26,500 last Thursday. Only a few fields remain to be harvested in the area. The Rhineland Coop Gin serves farmers in Knox, Baylor and Haskell counties.
Larry Tomlinson, gin manager, wouldn't call it a good year — at least not compared to the years before the recent drought hurt irrigation wells across the area.
"The quality is good," Tomlinson said. "We just come up short on bales."
Bale counts before the recent drought years were in the 50,000 to 100,000 range, Tomlinson said. He expects the final count this year to be about 26,650.
As for how much rain it will take to strengthen the irrigation wells and boost yield in irrigated fields?
"It's going to take a long time," Tomlinson said.
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