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Okla. cotton is in peril

Overall outlook is not good for Okla. cotton. Rainfall needed soon. Triple digit heat makes problem worse.

The 2012 Oklahoma cotton crop is on its way down the tube if extended dry weather and extreme heat continues. With the exception of some areas where irrigation provides enough groundwater to offset these prevailing weather conditions, the outlook is not good, according to information provided from Oklahoma State University's cotton program director, Dr. Randy Boman.

Reporting in the latest Cotton Comments, available at the website, Boman and his staff, Jerry Goodson and Shane Osborne, offer the latest outlook:

Much of the 2012 Oklahoma cotton acreage is heading into difficult times. Based on Jerry Goodson's IPM (integrated pest management) field surveys, nearly all surveyed fields are at the bloom stage with a few later planted fields still not quite there.

"Cotton with nodes above white flower (NAWF) is on the decline in fields beginning to bloom a while back. Only well-irrigated fields will be able to match the vertical flowering rate with new square production in the terminal and maintain a constant NAWF value,” the report says.

Many fields located in the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District have NAWF values of five or less, and unless rainfall is received, will bloom in the top of the plants soon. The rainfall event occurring about 10 days ago provided some badly needed moisture and delayed a potentially earlier cutout. “Many fields exhibit considerable signs of moisture stress,” according to the newsletter.  “Although some boll set has occurred, unless rainfall occurs soon, these bolls will be extremely small and will further limit yield potential. Other fields with high capacity groundwater-based irrigation have managed to stay on track or even excel in this heat.

"Much of the dryland cotton, although in fair condition a week ago, will be headed in the wrong direction soon with the forecasted temperatures. We really need a good rainfall event very soon.” Altus has encountered 28 days of 100 degrees or greater, one in April, nine in May, 11 in June and seven days in July, through July 19. Temperatures have been considerably above average with more forecast and few chances of rainfall. Cotton heat unit accumulation for a May 1 planting date at Altus is 1637 vs. the "normal" of 1330. This indicates the growing season is about 23 percent above normal in terms of cotton heat units.

"So far as insect damage is concerned in this year's cotton crop, light infestations of pests continue. Cotton fleahoppers are still being treated in Jackson, Tillman and Caddo Counties. Stink bugs are being treated in Caddo County, mostly brown stink bug. With the forecast of over 100 degrees and no rain in sight, dryland area cotton will soon stop production. Irrigated fields will soon be the only lush spots, surrounded by drying down pastures.

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