2006High Plains Cotton Crop Clears
Obstacles To Break Four Million Bale Mark

Friday, June 15, 2007                                By Shawn Wade

      Irrigated cotton acresshouldered the bulk of the load in 2006, offsetting the drought-related loss ofmore than one million mostly non-irrigated cotton acres, and helped the areaonce again surpass the 4 million bale production mark.

      According to the finalfigures reported by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) earlierthis week, PCG's 41-county area accounted for 70 percent of the 5.8 millionbales of Upland cotton produced in Texas last season and 19.5 percent of the20.8 million Upland bales produced in the United States.

      A complete run-down of2006-crop statistics for planted and harvested acreage, yield per harvestedacre and total bales produced in PCG's 41-county service area is included inthe table that accompanies this article.

      To eclipse the 4 million balemark for the third straight time, High Plains producers had to navigate theirway through a growing season with more than its fair share of ups and downs.The end result, which is clearly reflected in the county level productionnumbers, is that 2006 was a season of two extremes.

      The top producing High Plainscounty in 2006 was Hale County. Hale county farmers produced 483,000 bales ofcotton in 2006 thanks to a healthy 885-pound average yield and a low 9 percentacreage abandonment rate.

      The 2006-crop's Top Tencotton producing counties in the High Plains region (reported in 480-lb bales)were: Hale, 483,000; Gaines, 346,000; Lamb, 339,000; Hockley, 279,700; Floyd,254,400; Lubbock, 247,800; Crosby, 214,700; Terry, 214,200; Parmer, 191,200;and, Castro, 166,800.

      On a straight yield per acrebasis the top performer in 2006 was Sherman County in the Texas Panhandle. Arelative newcomer to the cotton business, Sherman County planted and harvestedjust over 23,000 acres of cotton in 2003 and produced 61,400 bales for anaverage yield of 1,265 pounds per acre.     Ranking second andthird in yield per acre were Hutchinson (1,248 pounds), another young Panhandlecotton county, and Parmer County (1,211 pounds). Castro and Hartley countiesrounded out the top five High Plains counties all of whom averaged more than1,000 pounds per acre in 2006.

      In irrigated cotton, growerswere lucky to avoid any significant early season weather damage and managed togrow a crop that produced, on average, 892 pounds per acre. Out of the roughlytwo million acres of irrigated cotton that was planted, NASS records indicate apaltry 61,000 acres failed to reach harvest, representing just 3 percent of theirrigated cotton acres planted in 2006.

      On the non-irrigated side ofthe ledger however, 2006 was a year that left many growers on the outsidelooking in. Persistent drought conditions ultimately forced the abandonment ofjust over one million acres of cotton.

      Dry conditions alsosignificantly impacted the yield potential of the 799,500 dryland acres thatdid make it to harvest. A whopping 57 percent of dryland acres planted wereabandoned on the High Plains in 2006.

      Overall the 1.15 millionacres lost in 2006 amounted to a 29.5 percent acreage abandonment rate. Theregion's long-term average abandonment rate is approximately 18 percent.

      Acomplete listing of the 2005 Upland cotton production totals for Texas andother states is available on the NASS website (www.usda.gov.nass/). Just click on the "Quick Stats"link to search for the data you want to find. The table below shows the finalUSDA NASS production numbers for the 41-county PCG service area.

2006-crop Upland CottonProduction

Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.41-County Service Area

County

Planted (Acres)

Harvested (Acres)

Yield per

Harv. Acre

Production (Bales)

Andrews

23,200

16,000

627

20,900

Armstrong

5,100

3,000

832

5,200

Bailey

89,400

40,400

771

64,900

Borden

30,500

10,400

558

12,100

Briscoe

41,100

28,000

665

38,800

Carson

45,500

37,200

662

51,300

Castro

83,800

74,500

1,075

166,800

Cochran

138,200

112,400

560

131,100

Crosby

214,300

181,000

569

214,700

Dallam

1,500

1,500

704

2,200

Dawson

297,500

137,400

562

161,000

Deaf Smith

54,600

27,800

924

53,500

Dickens

23,400

14,300

269

8,000

Floyd

187,200

164,000

745

254,400

Gaines

288,000

204,400

813

346,200

Garza

42,300

26,800

380

21,200

Hale

282,400

262,100

885

483,000

Hansford

7,800

7,800

763

12,400

Hartley

11,000

11,000

1,095

25,100

Hemphill

*

*

*

*

Hockley

261,000

212,000

633

279,700

Howard

111,500

91,100

303

57,600

Hutchinson

3,500

3,500

1,248

9,100

Lamb

207,200

193,000

844

339,500

Lipscomb

1,300

900

587

1,100

Lubbock

266,800

193,500

615

247,800

Lynn

304,900

131,000

515

140,500

Martin

149,700

74,000

400

61,600

Midland

30,200

17,400

549

19,900

Moore

32,400

30,900

861

55,400

Motley

24,800

10,600

448

9,900

Ochiltree

11,400

11,200

733

17,100

Oldham

*

*

*

*

Parmer

77,900

75,800

1,211

191,200

Potter

*

*

*

*

Randall

3,700

2,100

846

3,700

Roberts

1,000

800

960

1,600

Sherman

23,700

23,300

1,265

61,400

Swisher

93,300

66,100

862

118,700

Terry

272,100

150,800

682

214,200

Yoakum

145,300

91,200

769

146,200

Combined Co. *

1,200

1,000

768

1,600

41-county Totals

3,889,700

2,740,200

710

(weighted)

4,050,600

Source: National AgriculturalStatistics Service;

* = Zero Production or productionaggregated into Combined Counties