The 2019 cotton harvest continues in South Texas as pickers roll across fields under a hot Texas sun.
A cool, wet spring caused many growers to replant fields where cotton was damaged or destroyed from flooding, high winds and a few instances of hail. But in recent weeks dry, hot temperatures, which have allowed for a substantial number of heat units, and progress in plant maturity.
“We were a little concerned earlier this year when the weather seemed to slow down planting, plus high winds in March and April caused a lot of plants to lay down and some were replanted, but over the last few weeks we have been playing catch up and we’re not far off from our average harvest for this time of year,” reported Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Jason Ott, Nueces County, in a recent phone interview with Southwest Farm Press.
In the southern reaches of Nueces County, most fields were picked and stalks destroyed by mid-August.
“Overall, we are maybe 40 percent complete with (cotton) harvest --we’re making good progress,” Ott said.
In southern San Patricio County, sunny skies and hot weather have spurred harvesters into the field.
“We’re looking good this year,” said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Bobby McCool, San Patricio County, at the end of July. “I know there are some growers who would have liked to have picked up a couple of more inches of rain before they harvested but overall it’s still looking like a good year.
"Our grain harvest was very good and I’m happy with what we’re seeing with cotton in most places across the county.”
Hurricane Woes & Worries
In terms of quality, Ott says yields and quality are running slightly better than last year, but not nearly as good as they were looking two years ago when Hurricane Harvey hit the mid-coast and decimated baled cotton awaiting ginning.
“This is the time of year when growers get a little nervous when you live and farm anywhere near the Gulf Coast,” Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Integrated Pest Management Specialist Danielle Sekula told Farm Press.
Farmers and ranchers from the Coastal Bend and as far north up the coast as the Louisiana state line are still rebuilding following Harvey’s desolation.
In general, Ott said he believes growers are going to be pleased with their cotton when this season is over.
“It’s not a bumper year for cotton and the price is a sore point for many. I think the trade issues we’re having is at least partially the reason for that. Hopefully, that won’t last, and better days are on the horizon.”