Summer rains; irrigation has helped state’s cotton crop
Timely rains have given Jeannie Hileman’s clients an unexpected gift. a good cotton crop. Hileman manages the Farmers Coop Gin in Carnegie. In fact, the rain and accompanying cool weather this summer nearly wrecked the cotton crop before it got started, she said.
“We like to get the cotton planted early so it can have a full season to mature,” she said. “Spring rains here came with cool fronts and a lot of wind slowed down cotton planting and made a lot of the cotton late. “Luckily, the rains have continued on into August to keep the crop growing.”
Hileman said her farmers had 4,000 acres of dryland cotton and 8,000 acres of irrigated cotton in Caddo and Comanche counties. She added cotton growers as far west as Elk City haul cotton to the Carnegie facility for processing in the fall.
“There isn’t much irrigation water available in the Elk City and Canute areas,” she said. “But we know they have received some good rain. In that particular area, the dryland cotton should make good yields if the rain continues.”
Hileman added a good Indian summer is needed for a good cotton to mature. An early warm, dry fall is needed so the crop will mature its bolls without any rain causing extra plant growth.
“A lot of rain late in the growing season, the fall of the year, can cause the cotton plant to throw off its bolls and start growing again. The plant will add more bolls, but that late in the growing season, there is no time for the bolls to mature before frost,”: she said.
Carnegie and Caddo County seem to be the stepping-off place where plentiful rains have fallen and where they haven’t this year. Traveling west of Carnegie, it soon becomes apparent grass and crops are growing and the countryside is green for the first time in three years, but traveling east towards Union City and the Oklahoma City area reveals evidence of greener crops and grass. Only a few miles have to be traveled either directiion to see the difference a few extra inches of rain makes.
John Schieber, a Union City, Oklahoma, farmer wishes he had planted more cotton this year. “Well, you do what you have to do with what information you have at the time,” he said, standing in his 400 acre field of cotton. “Ordinarily, in better times, I would have 1,250 acres of cotton, but the past two and a half years of drought, and crop market shifts, caused me and my neighbors to plant more grain sorghum and soybeans this year.”
Schieber has the privilege of farming in the fertile valleys accompanying the North Canadian River southwest of Oklahoma City. Although he only has 400 acres of DeltaPine variety cotton this year, it is growing well. Inclement weather caused his cotton crop to be late emerging from the soil, he said.
“My cotton came up in scattered bunches this year,” he said. “It took awhile before the rows were filled in and all of the cotton was growing in good shape.”
Schieber said he is seeing pigweed in his fields with resistance to the popular herbicide Roundup. “I can look over my fields and see several huge pigweed plants growing where I applied Roundup earlier in the year,”he said. “Banvel and Roundup will take care of the resistance problem now, but have to apply the mixture of herbicides at the right time.”
Schieber likes to grow cotton in rotation with corn in notill fields. “The cotton benefits from fertilizer applied earlier to the corn crop grown before the cotton,” he said.”My corn and soybeans are growing well now.”
His cotton was watered from center pivot systems twice this year; applying one inch of water each time, he said. Continuing rain has helped to fill in the moisture needed for his crops, he said.
Like many other farmers, Schieber wears several different hats to make extra money. He owns a module-building cotton harvester he uses to harvest his own crop as well as other farmers around the state. The harvester makes its own modules, doing away with the need for a module builder, boll buggies, tractors and the extra employees needed to run the seasonally-needed equipment.
“We could see some two and half bale per acre cotton this fall,” he said. “Maybe even some three bale cotton.”
According to the Cotton Comments online report edited and written by Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University cotton research director, “Most of the 2013 Oklahoma cotton crop is blooming or nearly blooming. Where irrigation is adequate, fields are progressing well, the report states. Dryland fields which were planted near the final planting date of June 20 for insurance purposes are a little late this year. Triple digit temperatures with high winds have returned to the far southwestern corner of the state for the past week, the report states. This has resulted in high crop evapotranspiration and is taking its toll on what soil moisture available. A quick look at the Mesonet precipitation map, available at the Cotton Comments website) indicates although there has been some timely rainfall in July, it will be necessary to obtain additional rainfall soon in order the keep cotton crop progress moving in the right direction.
Farther southwest, Texas A&M University agronomists report conditions remain favorable for crops. Recent rains and temperatures in the high 90s to 100 degrees gave crops a boost during the past few weeks in the Rolling Plains. However, more rain will be needed if daytime highs continue to be near 100 degrees. Cotton plants grew more than a foot in the past week, the report states, and were squaring in some areas. This year’s cotton crop will be a little late, but producers were hopeful for a late freeze to let the crop mature. However, with the high temperatures, cotton plant growth and maturity were in the fast mode.
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