OSU Cotton Extension crews are shown planting a large plot irrigated cotton variety trial in a cooperator field in Jackson County on Monday.
According to the OSU Southwest Oklahoma Research and Extension Center in Altus, the local area continues to get some timely rainfall events across much of “cotton country.” After a hot ending to April during which some cotton acreage was planted, the first several days of May continued that trend. April had one day (the 25th) over 100 degrees at 105, and on May 5, we reached 106. We have already encountered 5 days over 100 degrees.
Several of these days were coupled with high wind speeds, which resulted in upper profile moisture loss. Recently cooler daytime high temperatures have been encountered, and low temperatures have been near “normal.” For the first 14 days of May, cotton heat unit accumulation was about 75% above normal. This significant increase is due to excessive temperatures during the first several days of May. Within a few days, we went from a high of 26 heat units (May 5) to a low of 2 heat units (May 8).
Soil temperatures have really not been an issue this planting season due to the early warm up. In spite of some cool air temperatures, based on Mesonet observations over the last few days, bare soil temperatures at the 4-inch depth have been cycling between 62 and 76 at Fort Cobb and 63 and 79 at Altus. The 7-day average 4-inch bare soil temperature has been 71 degrees at both Altus and Fort Cobb.
Wheat harvest is well underway and is very early this year. This may be the earliest wheat harvest in many years. Considerable cotton acreage has now been planted and has emerged due to the early warm up. Because of the occasional rainfall, we are still way ahead of 2011 in terms of soil moisture in many places, but just haven’t had substantial runoff in the North Fork watershed. As of today, Lake Lugert is still about 22% of capacity, which is ominous for the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District.
Research and extension crews have been busy planting field trials. We have several small plot type trials and large plot trials planned for 2012, and have about one-third of those planted at this time, with more scheduled later this week.