Drought Conditions Force Critical Decisions

Lubbock, July 29, 2011                    by Mary Jane Buerkle


      Outside of a tropical rainfall event, the remainder of the growing season continues to look bleak for High Plains cotton producers as drought conditions force them to determine whether to keep watering or call it quits on the year.

      With approximately two million acres of dryland cotton already written off, further losses on irrigated acreage could set the stage for one of the highest abandonment rates for the area in the history of Plains Cotton Growers. About 53 percent of acreage was abandoned in 1992, and 2011 could bring an even higher number.

      Jason Woodward, plant pathologist with Texas Tech and Texas AgriLife Extension, said that the current status of this year's crop is all over the map, depending on the location. He said some fields have already reached cutout, blooming through the top of the plant. But others, he said, are at seven to nine nodes above white flower, which means that yield potential is still there as long as the water can hold out.

      However, water availability is becoming more of a limiting factor each day without rain. Many producers have been gradually scaling back operations as water demand increases and supply decreases.

      "The losses from this drought are already staggering, and the failure of this dryland crop is causing the business community to miss out on a tremendous amount of economic activity that typically is generated by producers from planting through now," PCG's Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "This is only the beginning of the financial effects of this year that we're going to experience for quite some time."

      Hope remains in isolated areas to the north of Lubbock where some rainfall has occurred. Some locations received up to 5 inches of rain, although hail pummeled crops in northern Floyd and southern Briscoe counties.


USDA's July Marketing Numbers Illustrate

Cotton's Reduced Shipping Pace

Lubbock, July 29, 2011                             By Shawn Wade


      Cumulative 2010 Upland cotton marketings through the month of June 2011 now total 15.726 million-bales following the addition of marketing information released July 29, 2011 by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics

     USDA estimated June 2011 cotton marketings at 137,000 bales with an
average selling price of 81.4 cents per pound. The preliminary mid-month
price reported for July 2011 was 79.7 cents per pound.

      The 2010 Upland cotton Weighted Average Price calculated through June
2011 remained at 81.46 cents per pound for a third consecutive month. With only July marketing and price data and revisions to previously reported monthly data left to be added to the mix, USDA should be in position to compute the final marketing
year average price received by farmers across the U.S. as soon as the July numbers are released.

      Currently, the estimated 2011 Upland cotton Weighted Average Price is 19.36
cents above the 2009-crop marketing year average price calculated through the same 11-month period last year.

      As it stands, the 2010-crop Counter-cyclical payment rate for Upland cotton continues to be well above the 64.58-cent threshold where the 2008 Farm Bill's Upland cotton
Counter-cyclical payment calculation is zeroed out.

      The following table shows the average price received each month by farmers and the associated weighted average price based on prices and cumulative marketings reported from August 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

      The 2010 Counter-cyclical payment rate authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill would be based on the 12-month Weighted Average Price Received by growers. For cotton the 12-month Weighted Average Price will reflect price and marketings for the 2010 marketing year. The 2010 cotton marketing year began in August 1, 2010 and ends July 31, 2011.

Average Price Received For 2010-crop Upland Cotton
(Weighted by Marketings)





(000's of Running bales)







August '10





Sept '10





October '10





November '10





December '10





January '11





February '11










April '11





May '11





June '11





July '11





Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service; * = preliminary


TAWC to Host Production Agriculture

Planning Workshop

      Producers and others interested in irrigation issues have the opportunity next week to attend the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation's Production Agriculture Planning workshop on Thursday, August 4.

      The field day will begin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Floyd County Unity Center in Muncy, Texas.  The program will feature speakers during a tour of different project sites, and will conclude with lunch.

      As part of the Pioneers in Agriculture series, topics to be discussed include irrigation issues on the South Plains; a description of new, water efficient crop varieties; various water management technologies and practices; and the integration of variable-rate technologies.

      "This field day is an opportunity to see the latest research, learn of new energy and water saving technologies and hear first-hand from commodity groups and political leaders the future directions for agriculture and water management," said Rick Kellison, project director for TAWC.

      The TAWC project utilizes on-farm demonstration sites, including cropping and livestock systems, to identify the various production practices, technologies and systems that help maintain individual farm profitability while improving water usage efficiency. One of the main goals of this project is to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer, while maintaining the viability of local farms and communities.

      The Texas Alliance for Water Conservation is a unique partnership of Floyd and Hale county producers, data collection technologies, and collaborating partners that include: individual industries, universities, and government agencies. The TAWC project was made possible through a grant from the Texas Water Development Board.

      For more information and a final schedule for the field day, please visit the official website, http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tawc. To RSVP to this event, please call Angela Beikmann at (806) 742-2774 or complete the registration form online at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tawc/pages/contactus.htm.


Texas Cooperative Ag Statistics Program Ending

      August 31, 2011 will mark the end of a 44-year cooperative agreement between the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Texas Field Office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Funding for the agreement was eliminated during the recent Texas legislative session.

      The cooperative agreement provided resources to NASS for the estimation of district and county level breakouts of many Texas crop and livestock commodity estimates. The agreement also provided for the publication of a Texas Annual Statistical Bulletin and a monthly publication, Texas Ag Facts, which provides summaries of recent agricultural reports. These publications along with several special estimates will no longer be produced. However, much of the information contained in the publications will be available at http://www.nass.usda.gov/tx.

      Some of the losses include: Texas index of monthly prices received by farmers, Texas special April Wheat forecast, several Texas monthly crop forecasts by district for corn, cotton, sorghum and wheat, Texas hog district estimates, Texas chicken district estimates, Texas vegetable district estimates, and Texas grain stocks and grain storage capacities by district.

      "The loss of the cooperative agreement with TDA is part of the new reality of the current economic times", said Doug Rundle, Director of the NASS Texas Field office. "Reduced state and federal budgets are resulting in reduced public services, including statistical information."

      The Texas Field Office will continue to provide comprehensive State level statistics under the federal program, and Rundle says their office will try to maintain a few in-season crop district estimates identified as 'critical' by Texas producer and industry groups. "Our ability to continue with a few key in-season estimates is contingent on staffing and on farmer participation rates on crop surveys. With the loss of samples provided under the former agreement, response rates on the reduced survey samples will dictate which district estimates can be statistically established."

      Key Texas crop estimates to be continued are: May and July wheat forecasts by district; September final wheat estimates by district; June planted acres by district for corn, cotton and sorghum; August and October forecasts by district for corn, cotton and sorghum; December cotton estimates by district; January final estimates by district for corn, cotton, and sorghum.

      Key Texas livestock estimates to be maintained are: monthly Texas cattle on feed estimates by district; annual all sheep, ewes, and wool production by county; annual meat goat, milk goat, Angora goat and mohair production by county. Annual county level estimates of cattle were not in jeopardy as they are provided under the federal estimating program.

      For more information, please contact Doug Rundle at (512) 916-5581. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


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