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June rains hurt cotton yields

June rains hurt cotton yields

St. Lawrence area cotton yield down slightly June rainfall caused fruit shed Production up from increased acreage

Jeff Turner expects to run from 125,000 to 150,000 bales of cotton through the Glasscock County Cooperative Cotton Gin this season from a crop that likely will not yield as well as the 2009 crop but includes more acres and less abandonment.

The facility ginned 86,410 bales last year.

Turner, CEO and general manager of the Garden City, Texas, facility, says early harvest indicates some yield reductions compared to last year. “We’re seeing about a three-fourths bale per acre production from dryland cotton,” he says. “Farmers haven’t harvested enough of the drip-irrigated cotton to tell yet, but it seems like those fields will be from one-half to three-fourths of a bale less than last year. We haven’t seen any cotton come in that yielded better than expected.”

Disappointing yields

Turner says farmers are a bit disappointed in the yields. “We had an opportunity to make the biggest crop ever,” he says. “But we missed an August rain and some fields shed fruit early in the season.”

Farmer Eric Seidenberger says wet, cloudy conditions in late June and early July hurt yield potential. “We didn’t make the bottom crop,” he says. “The wetter areas suffered the most. We had very little sun for about 10 days and had a lot of fruit shed.”

Warren Multer, Texas AgriLife Extension integrated pest management agent, says fruit shed from the lower fruiting positions has hurt yield. He pulled a cotton stalk from one of Seidenberger’s fields and showed a top crop that was mature and well-filled out. The lower portion of the stalk was barren. “We didn’t make those early bolls,” he says.

Rainfall accumulation for the area is 18.5 inches. “But we got 9 inches at the end of June,” Seidenberger says. “Then we had only three-fourths of an inch from July through September and that came in two different rains. We got no rain in August,” he says.

He says heavy rain also may have depleted nitrogen for some of the dryland cotton. “Still, yields will be decent.”

Good harvest weather

Seidenberger has just begun harvest and says if weather remains clear, he should finish in five to six weeks. “So far, the weather has been perfect,” he says. “Early October has been beautiful.”

“It was wet and cool in July,” Turner adds. “Until then, we were expecting to gin as many as 200,000 bales this year. But we are grateful for what we have and the price is good.”

Turner says acreage in the St. Lawrence area increased for 2010 and farmers abandoned very few acres. Seidenberger says he’ll harvest every acre he planted last spring.

Early grades have been good, Turner says. Color is running at 11, staple at 34, leaf at 2.3 with 0.78 percent light bark. Micronaire has been around 44.8, strength at 30.1 and loan value has been running at $54.20.

Turner expects to be ginning into March. “Our six-year average is 102, 457,” Turner says. “My best guess is that we will beat that average this year. We usually average 62 to 65 bales per hour since we added two new gin stands last year.”

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