PCG Completes Staff Transition;
Shawn Wade Set To Assume New Role

Lubbock, April 22, 2011                      By Mary Jane Buerkle

      A familiar face at Plains Cotton Growers has a new title and responsibilities as Shawn Wade recently was named director of policy analysis and research for the organization.

      Wade came to PCG in 1991 as communications director after graduating from Texas Tech University with a degree in agricultural communications.

      "Shawn has been an integral part of this organization for two decades, and I look forward to working with him as he continues to work for our producers," Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "This was a natural transition for him and I'm pleased that he now will be able to focus on these legislative and regulatory matters that directly affect our membership on a daily basis, and research that will enhance cotton production in our area, nationwide and around the world."

      In his twenty years at PCG, Wade said, he has developed a keen interest in legislative and regulatory issues through his work in communications. This new role, he said, will be an expansion of his previous responsibilities and allow him to focus on farm policy, crop insurance, and research.

      "I'll be monitoring how current programs are working once they're passed and helping PCG members understand how they work and how proposed changes to those programs might impact them at the farm level. I look forward to more opportunities to help PCG address the important legislative or regulatory issues that face agriculture in ways that benefits cotton producers," Wade said.

      Wade said he also will continue to work with closely with cotton researchers, helping to guide and advise on new projects that address key industry needs through programs such as the Plains Cotton Improvement Program and the Cotton Incorporated State Support Program.

      This move completes the recent reorganization of Plains Cotton Growers after the departure of Roger Haldenby. New PCG staff member Mary Jane Buerkle began her work at PCG this week as director of communications and public affairs.

      "In the past, the PCG staff has shared a lot of the load when it comes to communications and policy issues," Verett explained. "I see the changes we are making as an opportunity to consolidate some of those previously shared responsibilities and continue to improve our ability to effectively represent the PCG membership."


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As Planting Season Approaches Cotton
Producers Are Facing Dry Soil Conditions

Lubbock, April 22, 2011                            By Shawn Wade

      It is no surprise to anyone that the 2011 planting season is headed for a dry start next month and the April 15 release of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1's annual Depth-to-Water Survey has clearly reiterated that reality.

      Knowing growers might encounter drier soil moisture conditions wasn't as much of a concern a month or two ago, since it isn't unusual for the area to transition from winter to spring with less than optimal subsoil moisture conditions. Unfortunately, though, time doesn't stand still and the window for spring rains to improve soil conditions across the area is getting smaller and smaller.

      With estimates for cotton acreage on the High Plains to be at or slightly above 4 million acres, the current situation has the potential to significantly impact as much as one-half of the region's cotton in 2011.

      A quick look at the latest soil temperature data from the Texas Tech West Texas Mesonet site shows that recent warm weather and the lack of rainfall have combined to push the 10-day average soil temperature, measured at the 8-inch depth, above 60 degrees earlier than usual. While dryland acres still must wait for rain, the soil temperature situation could allow growers with irrigation to get a head start on their 2011 cotton planting.

      In fact, as of today it appears that only four sites currently have 10-day averages below 60 degrees - the minimum soil temperature cotton growers look for to begin planting. In alphabetical order the four West Texas Mesonet sites still hovering just below the 60 degree soil temperature threshold are: Floydada at 58 degrees, Friona at 59 degrees, Hart at 58 degrees, and Pampa at 57 degrees.


      While the area waits for planting rains, and for soil temperatures to stabilize further, the information growers need to keep track of current weather conditions and forecasts is easily accessible from one convenient location the Plains Cotton Growers website.

      Clicking on the "PCG Weather Pages" link at the top of the PCG Home page (www.plainscotton.org) takes you instantly to PCG's Weather Page, a one-stop shop for weather data.

      There you will find 3- and 7-day forecast data, current conditions and a bevy of links on the left-hand side of the page through which growers can access data from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Amarillo and Lubbock and from the Texas Tech West Texas Mesonet system.

      Interest in PCG's weather pages is expected to be high due to the fact that the area still hasn't seen its usual uptick in the typical spring weather pattern is a growing concern since it likely will take more than one or two good rainfall events to put the area in a satisfactory moisture situation.

      The severity of that situation was illustrated clearly in the "abbreviated" pre-plant soil moisture survey HPWD personnel conducted between January 28 and February 22, 2011.

      For the survey, data were collected at 87 permanently installed soil moisture monitoring sites which provide an even distribution of data throughout the district's 16-county service area. It should be noted that no sites were included for Swisher County as it was annexed into the district in November 2010.

      At each location, moisture meter readings are taken at six-inch intervals throughout the five-foot soil profile and the data were processed to calculate the current moisture level in the soil (available moisture) and how much moisture can still be added (deficit moisture) to the soil for plant growth.

      The overall average 2011 per-plant soil moisture deficit reading was 3.2 inches in the upper three feet and 4.87 inches in the upper five feet of the soil. This means that, on average, 3.2 inches of water was needed by rainfall or irrigation to fill the upper three feet of the soil profile or 4.87 inches was needed to fill the upper five feet at the time of the survey.

      According to the HPWD, these values are slightly drier than last year due to the lack of rainfall or other precipitation in winter/spring 2011. The overall average pre-plant soil moisture deficit for 2010 was 2.98 inches in the upper three feet of the soil and 4.78 inches in the upper five feet.

      The HPWD report also noted that some areas, which received above-average rainfall last year, still have some residual moisture and are not quite as dry as other areas of the district.

      Soil moisture availability and deficit maps for the 2011 pre-plant season were published in the April issue of The Cross Section, the water district's monthly newsletter. The maps are also available for on-line viewing as PDF files at: http://www.hpwd.com/programs/MoistureSurvey.asp

      The annual pre-plant soil moisture survey indicates general trends in soil moisture within the district. Because of this, producers are encouraged to check soil moisture conditions in their own fields prior to planting.

      An illustrated step-by-step procedure to determine soil moisture can be found in the Water District's Water Management Note, Estimating Soil Moisture By Feel and Appearance. Printed copies are available free of charge to district residents by calling 806-762-0181. A PDF file of the document is also available for on-line viewing/downloading at http://www.hpwd.com.downloads

      The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 was created in September 1951 by local residents and the Texas Legislature to conserve, preserve, protect, and prevent waste of underground water within its 16-county service area.


REMINDER: EPA To Accept Comment on Aldicarb
Registration Request Through April 29

      Only one week remains for growers and interested parties to submit comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of the proposed registration of a new aldicarb product for use on cotton. The deadline for comments to be submitted is April 29, 2011.

      The attempt to register a new aldicarb product is good news for Texas cotton growers who have relied heavily on aldicarb for control of nematodes and thrips.

      A link to the Federal Register's comment submission page can be found on the Plains Cotton Growers website at: http://www.plainscotton.org, or you can go straight to the EPA announcement online at:


      Submitting comments online is an easy process. You start by clicking the "Submit A Formal Comment" button on the Federal Register web page.

      In addition to the online process, there are alternative methods for submitting comments described on the web page. Remember to include "Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-1021" on any comment you submit.