Paul Pilsner, Pilsner Consulting, Wharton, Texas:
“We’ve had our fingers crossed the past few days and it looks like Laura will miss the Upper Gulf Coast. We’re fortunate because growers are on the downside of harvest and sure didn’t need a hurricane.
“Yields have been pleasant in most places and are above average. My first field went 2.5 bales after I thought it would make 2 bales. That’s good for dryland cotton. Quality was also good and 3 cents above loan. A few guys pushed harvest too soon to beat rain and may face some grade problems.
“Growers are seeing good results from the new varieties. There was a legitimate report of 4-bale dryland from a new PhytoGen variety in the Corpus area. You can’t argue with that.
“The only harvest snags have been with the newer machinery. The electronics are a little frustrating. Growers are also paying more attention to contamination from module wraps that can hurt quality.”
Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Corpus Christi:
“The Coastal Bend crop from Victoria south is about 75% picked. There are no issues, so far. The plots we’ve picked are easily 2.5-bale cotton and much is at 3 to 3.5 bales. I don’t have any grades back, but the quality looks pretty good. There is minor sprouting but not enough to ding us on loan value.
“It looks like the Upper Coast is not in Hurricane Laura’s path. They are in the middle of harvest and don’t need any setbacks. My plot in that area has yields that averaged 3 bales. Not all of that will be that good, but the crop is still pleasing.
“Most Coastal Bend fields have been harvested, shredded and tilled for boll weevil eradication compliance.”
Danielle Sekula, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Lower Rio Grande Valley:
“Guys are still picking up the pieces after Hurricane Hanna, which wiped out what would have been an excellent crop. I’ve only seen a handful of farmers with fields to harvest and I’m not sure about the quality. In driving through the region, most activity involves shredding stalks and chiseling fields that were zeroed-out by insurance adjusters.
“There is still a September 1 deadline for destroying stalks to meet Boll Weevil Eradication guidelines. No one wants to miss that date due to coastal rains that always seem to hit us. For many, this was the third year to see a good cotton crop ruined by heavy rain or a hurricane.”
Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo:
“Most cotton in the Panhandle is blooming out the top. Producers have started turning off their irrigation, although there are a few northeast fields still getting watered. They want to make sure they get a boll fill and offset the heat stress we had last week.
“If we have a warm, open fall many producers hope they can make 4 bales. It depends on whether we have enough heat to finish out the later planted crop. Many fields north of Amarillo have lower bolls that are cracking and starting to open. They were planted in late April or early May. Producers with fields planted in late May and early June are the ones deciding when to stop watering.
“Dryland production is extremely variable. North of Amarillo dryland has a chance to make it. But nearly all cotton southwest of Amarillo remains highly stressed from drought and heat, which will impact yield potential. It was hard to keep up with water demand even under irrigation.
“While areas north of Amarillo have had good precipitation, hail damage also occurred. Many producers lost crops due to hail north of Dalhart, and near Stratford, Spearman and Stinnett. Fortunately, most of those storms were localized and will not prevent good yields if we have an open fall.”
Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock:
“Cotton is moving along just fine and seems to be maturing on track. As of late last week, many fields planted in late May to early June are passed cutout.
“Cotton that has made it this far looks to be in good shape, but there is widespread variability. Most of the South Plains dryland did not make it through the early hot, dry weather. Dryland that did made it will likely yield in the half-bale range. Irrigated fields with plenty of water should be pushing 3-plus bales per acre. Everything else is between there and the poor dryland projections.
“Water is still the limiting factor. The past several weeks brought scattered rainfall to the High Plains, but in general, conditions are mostly dry. The short-term forecast continues to show dry conditions with warm temperatures. Growers with irrigation should try to keep up with crop demand for the next few weeks.
“As we approach September, we remain hopeful that the warmth holds and allows us to finish this crop. We should continue scouting for insects to make sure positions on the plant are protected. We’re nearing the final stretch of the season. This is no time to let our guard down.”