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Coastal bend farmers completing cotton harvest look at growing wheat

Cotton farmers across the Coastal Bend area were working diligently to complete harvest of this season’s cotton crop during the final week of September. Most cotton was a month behind from the start, since spring planting was delayed due to wet field conditions.

Cooler temperatures this spring never provided the heat units necessary to accelerate cotton development in May and June. An unusually wet July and August kept the crop vegetative and fruiting at the top of the plant while waterlogged fields were causing boll decay at the bottom.

By late September, Nueces County had approximately 15 percent of the cotton crop still in the fields, mostly in the southern portion of the county, and east and west of Bishop.

One farmer in that area said he had about 75 percent of his cotton acreage harvested but only two fields harvested end to end without leaving unharvested cotton in the mud holes.

The harvest difficulty and unexpected expense involved with the 2007 Coastal Bend cotton crop has prompted some area farmers to consider reducing cotton acreage in 2008, if feed grain prices remain strong. Some are considering wheat as an alternative to cotton. Wheat prices have reached historic highs in futures markets for both winter and spring types.

Since South Texas is the first region of the United States to harvest new crop wheat, the price outlook remains reasonably strong through the May harvest period, even if the major wheat production regions in the northern U.S. grain belt dramatically expand production.

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