Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor

Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor


Special thanks to PhytoGen, the exclusive sponsor of AgFax Southwest Cotton. 



This is our final issue for the season. Thanks very much to all of you who generously gave us your time. We greatly appreciate and value your knowledge, insights and experience.


Many thanks to Phytogen for once again making AgFax Southwest Cotton possible.


We have more reports about Harvey damage from Gaylon Morgan and Josh McGinty. Additionally, scroll down to read recent crop insurance information from Plains Cotton Growers representatives.


Weed control is reportedly looking good. Chuck Wilbur said it sure is nice NOT to be faced with “Christmas tree size weeds” at harvest.


Oklahoma cotton is in need of more heat units. New Mexico is looking at above average yields and Arizona has finished harvest in the Yuma area. West Texas cotton needs some mild days and nights. Kansas has enjoyed a warm September but expecting late season insect arrival.    


Harvest aid shortages were mentioned by a couple of our advisors. Good time to check with your local supplier.


USDA: 2017 September Production Estimates

Arizona: 545,000 bales

Kansas: 205,000 bales

New Mexico: 112,000 bales

Oklahoma: 980,000 bales

Texas: 9.3 million bales (pre-Hurricane Harvey) 





Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “There are still a lot of unknowns for the southeast Texas crop that was hit hard by Harvey. Farmers have many questions about total damage to cotton flooded while still on the stalk and in the modules. And, also what they can do with seed and whether it can enter the food chain.


“Along with those unknowns, we’re still not sure about bales lost. Some guys were able to harvest after fields dried out. Projected 3-bale cotton only yielded 2 bales. But, others who were able to harvest lost 50% of their projected yield.


“The southern Blacklands remain a mixed bag. Some fields that had been under water are still wet. Some will be a complete loss. Other fields look good, with no lint on the ground. However, seed quality may be affected. Up toward Temple, things weren’t affected too much by the storm. Harvest is going good. Even the Brazos Bottom started harvest on Saturday (9/9) in some fields.


“I drove through the Waco and Hill County area late last week and the crop looked good. It has been defoliated and some is being harvested. I was also at a northeast Texas field day last week and there’s some good looking cotton up there. They started defoliating this week. In the Rolling Plains, progress is slow, at only about 10% open bolls, similar to the late situation seen in southwestern Oklahoma. It’s just a waiting game for them. They need some heat.


“I’ve heard from numerous sources that there’s a shortage of harvest aid products. So I would recommend growers line up their harvest aid products ahead of time.


“After the overall crop is harvested, we will still have concerns over the Bt resistance problems we saw this year. We’re eager to see more research data on the newer Bt technologies. There are some good opportunities with the new herbicide technologies that were brought into the state this year. They had a successful launch and there have been very few drift issues like those seen in other states. That is very positive.”


Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan: “The hot, dry weather has been good for cotton. We have a good boll set and some bolls are opening after we had a little cool spell 2 weeks ago. The crop’s condition had dropped a little but it’s back after the warm September we’re seeing. Yield expectations are not quite as high as they were a year ago, but are still above our average.


“Weed control was good this year. Guys were on top of it. They started with a decent burndown applied with a pre-emerge. Those growers with the Enlist 2, 4-d cotton in the southwest part of the state are pretty tickled with how those varieties performed. They just wish they could have received more seed. Drift issues were minor. Guys with Xtend varieties in central Kansas were also happy.


“When we have an extended September, that’s when we see our biggest issues with insects. So if the warm September continues, we could see some bollworm situations. We will also have to keep an eye on stinkbugs.”


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Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Corpus Christi: “We could see losses up from the projected 300,000 to 400,000 bales for cotton that was still on the stalk during Harvey. The loss estimate of about 600,000 bales that includes cotton in modules is as good an estimate as any. I’ve even heard 750,000, but everyone is still guessing.


“The thing that’s throwing a wrench in it is the FDA says anything that was standing in water can’t go into the food market. The same goes for all crops up the coast. I don’t know how they will determine that. A lot of cotton was wet and damaged and not necessarily standing in water.


“All gins, except the Bayside gin, are up and running. Bayside has power now but the repair process is ongoing. Some growers started back with harvest last week with smaller equipment so they could get into the field. Others got into larger fields with bigger equipment late in the week.


“From the road, fields vary in appearance. I drove through Wharton County last week. Some fields looked fine, but a mile down the road, half the crop or more was on the ground. It will be a while before we determine the extent of damage from Hurricane Harvey.”


Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma: “Our cotton is clocking right along and really enjoying this mild fall weather. We range from 15 to 20% cracked bolls to some just getting ready to open. Most of the irrigation has been stopped unless growers have late cotton.


“Fields that were planted in a timely manner might see 2,000 pounds per acre at the top end. There is also a lot of cotton that will make 1,500 pounds. Later cotton still has a chance for high yields, it just depends on what happens this fall. We had a lot of dryland that was failed-out early on, but I’m surprised at what the remaining dryland has done in the past 2 weeks. We need a monsoon every year like we had in August this year.


“Weed control was really nice most of the growing season. Everyone did a good job with preemerge herbicides, residuals and timely applications. Our dicamba varieties seemed to do well. I hope the government continues to let us use it after all of the problems they’ve had elsewhere. Most everyone I know is happy with it. There are a few smaller weeds, but there won’t be any of those giant Christmas tree size weeds to mess up harvest.


“There have been no major drift situations. If we had any, they were likely self-inflicted, where someone didn’t get tanks cleaned out properly. In areas where we had failed cotton, a lot of guys sowed rye or wheat as cover crops, either for grazing or to help get land ready for next year.


“Our peanuts look great. Yields are going to be high. A little sclerotinia blight has been seen where there is some history of the disease, but there is no really heavy disease pressure. A few guys are still irrigating peanuts, trying to get those last immature plants to finish. We’ll probably start digging in 2 to 3 weeks.” 


John Idowu, New Mexico State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Las Cruces: “The cotton is finishing out nicely. The monsoon appears to be gone and there is no rain in the forecast, which should be good to help the crop close out the season.


“I think yields will be above average, which is typically from 900 to about 1,000 pounds of lint per acre.


“We had a good year pest-wise, with few insect or disease problems. There were reports of some fusarium earlier, but I have not heard of any more incidences of the disease. It tends to be more of a problem when cotton is young and stressed.


“Unless something catastrophic happens, I’m looking for a good year.” 


Texas Panhandle cotton in bloom near

Tulia, Texas. Photo: Larry Stalcup


Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock: “We are seeing cotton aphids on almost all fields in much of the Lubbock and South Plains area. The good rain in August put the extra growth on the terminals, which attracted aphids. With the dry weather, plants are stressing and causing a decline in populations. However, we are entering the most critical stage of the crop, boll opening. Bolls are very sensitive to aphids. They can cause sticky cotton and a substantial decline in lint quality.


“The economic threshold drops from about 50 aphids per leaf to ten. So it is a good time to scout for aphids. Some farmers have sprayed for them. Fortunately, they are the only pests we need to worry about now.” 


Wayne Keeling, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Weed Specialist, Lubbock: “If you drive around this area you’ll see a lot of clean fields. That is no accident. Producers have gone back to using a compliment of residual herbicides, both preplant and in-season, which really helped hold down weeds. The amount of acres planted in Xtendimax and dicamba is substantial and has helped top off the weed control.


“In terms of weed control, the Enlist cotton is also certainly very competitive. Overall, guys have done a good job in abiding by labels for all new technologies. We have little or no problems with drift in this area, especially after the problems they’ve had in Arkansas and Missouri with dicamba crops.


“For next year, producers need to keep using residuals in their herbicide mix and not over-rely on dicamba so that we eventually see resistance develop. Our farmers are very aware of what can happen if they rely too much on a single product for weed control.”


Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “We’re finishing the year with an optimistic attitude. We’ve harvested 3 different trials and all have shown good yields that I’d say are slightly above average. Eastern Arizona’s crop looks really good and most of the harvest is finished in the Yuma area, although there is still some Pima in the field.


“In the central part of the state, we’re still looking at fields hit with heat stress during those peak hot days this summer. There may be an opportunity for some insurance claims. We will look at variety trials to determine which varieties demonstrate any tolerance to heat stress.” 



Seth Byrd, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “We have really good conditions to finish up the crop. It’s not only warm, but it’s also dry. We’re almost better off if we can just spoon feed the crop with just a little water. Warm and dry weather will definitely help mature the crop and get those bolls made.


“We have a good boll load out there, which is holding the vegetative growth back. We’re getting calls on whether we should turn the irrigation pivots back on. Further south, where they didn’t have as much seasonal rainfall, there’s still a need for some irrigation in some places.


“I saw a lot of dryland fields today (9/11) in Lynn and Dawson counties and further south. There is a lot of good weed control. That is a testament to these folks and their concentration on weed management, even while they’re trying to hold down costs on a dryland crop.


“It’s still a long way before harvest, but we are set up for an above average potential in yields, mainly due to the August moisture and the continued warm and dry September.


"A lot of fields remain behind, but with this good weather, it doesn’t mean we still can’t have good yields.


“There are still a lot of white blooms out there, but guys need to realize that we won’t get those to harvest unless we get an extremely warm and long fall. Even so, we still have a great boll load. We’ll need to take that all into account when we schedule harvest aids. We know we can’t get every boll open on the plant.”


Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus: “We remain very concerned about having enough heat units for some of our crop. We ended August at 19% below normal for heat units, and we were down 30% for the first 11 days of September. Days are getting warmer, but we’ve had too many days in the lower 80s and nights that have been below 60 degrees.


“We normally get 200 heat units the first 11 days of September, but we only had 136. A lot of our late-planted dryland will need all the help it can get to obtain the 2,000 heat units it needs. It could be a stretch. Our long-term average from now (9/12) to the end of September is 332 heat units. If we get those, cotton with a May 20th planting date will reach 2,500 heat units. Cotton planted about June 5th will reach 2,350, and June 20th plantings will be right at 2,000 units. So the late dryland will have to squeeze out maturity.


“Meanwhile, the overall crop still looks good. Our acreage remains high. FSA’s certified acres are more than 560,000. I saw some good dryland yesterday near Granite that looked like it could yield 2 to 3 bales per acre. That farmer will apply harvest aids at the end of this week or early next week.


“Speaking of harvest aids, there is some concern about a potential shortage of harvest aid products in our area. We got into a little bind last year so we’re hoping for the best. With more acres, we hope there is enough for the state.”  


Rex Brandon, Crop Production Services, Dumas, Texas: “In the central and northern Panhandle, we’ve seen a few bollworms in non-Bt cotton so some insecticide applications have been made. But for the most part everything else is quiet. We have some good heat this week in the high 80s and 90s, enough that we shouldn’t be surprised at how fast our cotton moves along with this warm spell.


“The dryland is drying out a little. It might stress some but should by okay. The irrigated is pulling a lot of water to fill up those bolls. That’s what we want. We’ve had to hammer much of the crop with PGRs to keep the growth down. But with the heat we’re seeing the crop is in good shape.


“I’ve seen a few cracked bolls in fields. We’ll be defoliating at the end of month and the first of October. I’d say dryland yields will see a minimum of 1 bale up to 2.5 bales in many cases. On the irrigated, there is probably a lot of 3 and 4 bale cotton.


“We were really pleased with our weed control this year. The new technologies worked well. If needed, we had good results with Liberty to clean up fields. Fields are clean across the Panhandle.” 


Joel Webb, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Runnels, Tom Green & Concho Counties: “We’re past cutout for dryland and irrigated and we’re filling up bolls in the Concho Valley area. The crop is looking really good. We have some heat in the forecast, even up to 103 degrees at the end of the week. We have a chance to keep going after some cooler temperatures caused some worries a few weeks ago.


“We’re still 2 to 3 weeks away from applying harvest aids. Some dryland growers will begin harvest in mid to late October. The irrigated won’t be harvested until we're more into November.


“We’ve stayed away from disease problems for the most part and insects haven’t been too bad. We had a few bollworms recently but nothing major. We had good luck with weed control this year. There’ve been a few fields with escapes, but guys got out there and took care of them.


“Overall, we’re just waiting to finish the crop and hope that warm weather continues.” 



Steve Verett, Plains Cotton Growers, Executive V-P: “We must understand that most producers have no less than a 30% deductible on their insurance, and some as high as 40 percent. In addition to the deductible levels, many producers opt to take whole farm or enterprise coverage.


“When you look at the exceptionally good southeast Texas crop, there will be few if any producers who will fall into any kind of loss situation on their crop insurance. That’s because, even if they only harvested 50 to 60% of their crop, it was making significantly more yield than in the past and they are likely above their guaranteed APH.


“When it comes to damaged cotton left in the field, the incentive is going to be to harvest that crop. That’s revenue out there. It will not affect their insurance because they are, in most cases, already above their guarantee.


“Producers and ginners will work together to determine the quality of any seed, whether or not it sprouted in the field, or after it had been harvested and in a module. Any degradation or loss of seed will cause the ginning cost to increase, so all of that will have to be calculated to determine the feasibility of harvesting any remaining cotton in the field, or ginning any water damaged modules.”


Shawn Wade, Plains Cotton Growers, Director of Policy Analysis and Research: “RMA has streamlined procedures for handling both damaged modules and cotton in the field. If conventional modules are wiped out, they can be zeroed out for crop insurance purposes. There is still a question on damaged round modules, such as whether a portion of them can still be ginned and if seed has sprouted due to getting wet.


“For modules that were delivered to the gin before the storm, but not ginned: If no claim for indemnity is filed because coverage under federal crop insurance had already ended, RMA says production may be estimated and reported for APH purposes, using the production harvested from the unit based on weights of the modules delivered to the gin. If gin records are unavailable, production based on module measurements would also be acceptable for APH purposes.


“Most gins have hurricane insurance, but those policies will have deductibles and in some cases maximum coverage levels that will complicate the settlement process.” 


AgFax News Links


Texas Hurricane Losses: When Crop Insurance Won’t Help – DTN 9-12


Post-Hurricane: Don’t Let Flooded Crops Enter the Food Chain, says EPA – DTN   9-11


Texas Sorghum: Sugarcane Aphids in the High Plains 9-11


Texas West Plains: Aphids in Cotton; Sugarcane Aphids in Sorghum 9-11


Texas Row Crops: Risk of Elevated Aflatoxin in Cottonseed 9-8


Texas Plains: Heavy Insect Pressure in Late-Planted Grains; High Bollworm Numbers in Cotton 9-8


Kansas: Extension Field Day, Columbus, Sept. 14


Texas: Military Veteran Ag Workshop, Dayton, Sept. 16


Texas: Ag-Oriented Disaster Assistance Workshop, Dayton, Sept. 16


Texas: Master Marketer Program, Castroville, Sept. 18-Oct. 31


Texas: Wheat, Cattle Workshop, Haskell, Sept. 21


Texas: Landowners’ Legal Protections Workshop, Fort Worth, Sept. 29




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