USDA Crop Production Estimate Provides

First Official Tally of 2011 Drought Impact

Friday, August 12, 2011                             By Shawn Wade

      USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service's first look at the 2011 High Plains cotton crop sets the stage for what undoubtedly will be the disappointing conclusion to a tough growing season.

      According to the report, the Texas High Plains is projected to produce an estimated 2.57 million bales of cotton this season, 48 percent less than the area produced in 2010. High Plains' cotton acres available for harvest were estimated at 1.97 million acres.

The harvested acreage estimate translates into a record high projected High Plains abandonment rate of 55 percent based on an estimated 4.38 million planted acres. The 4.38-planted acreage number is slightly higher than the 4.22 million acres cotton USDA projected to be planted in the High Plains in June.

Abandonment in the region, using the August report's figures is now officially projected to be the highest ever recorded for the High Plains, eclipsing the 53 percent abandonment rate from 1992.

Despite this upward revision to planted area, recent reports indicate High Plains cotton acreage may still be somewhat higher than the figures used in this month's forecast. Unfortunately it is unlikely that another upward revision in the region's planted acreage would translate into a similar upward adjustment in harvested acreage.

Considering the rapid pace at which many of the region's remaining cotton acres are maturing, it is not a stretch to say it won't be long before the full impact of this year's record-setting drought is fully evident in the field.

Another key area of uncertainty is how the August report's yield forecast will match up with actual yields once harvest begins. Typically the August yield forecasts have the most variance from final yield figures because field surveys are conducted when there are relatively few bolls to evaluate. Historical yield trends therefore become a more significant component of the August yield forecast than actual boll sample data.

Statewide Texas is expected to produce 4.5 million bales from an estimated 3.4 million harvested acres. That translates into an expected average yield of 635 pounds per harvested acre.

On the High Plains, District 1-N is forecast to average 656 pounds per harvested acre, while District 1-S was given an estimated yield of 610 pounds. Both of these yields are essentially predictions of the region's 2011 irrigated crop since virtually all of the region's non-irrigated acres are expected to be failed eventually.

Those numbers, when combined, indicate an overall average yield level of 626 pounds a number that could be hard to realize if current conditions persist and the crop continues to degrade over the next few weeks.


Crop Conditions Continue to Drive

Insurance/Management Decisions

Friday, August 12, 2011                             By Shawn Wade

      With the dog days of summer in full force and reports of deteriorating crop conditions becoming more and more prevalent, cotton producers on the Texas High Plains are in the process of deciding when to terminate irrigation activities. It is also bringing many growers to the realization that their crop essentially has matured to the point that it has set all of the potential yield it can and may not be worth carrying to harvest.

      For growers in the latter situation, crop insurance rules permit the initiation of boll count appraisals as soon as the crop can be determined to have reached the "mature" stage of development. In crop insurance parlance, cotton has reached the "mature" stage when it is determined that it "has set all of the bolls that will contribute to the ultimate yield."

      Even though the calendar says it is only August 12, this year's drought has put many irrigated acres at this stage of development. Growers wanting to have their crops evaluated using the boll count method should contact their insurance provider, indicate to them the stage of the crop in question and request an appraisal be scheduled.

      At the other end of the spectrum are producers who have crops that are also at or near the mature stage, but still have enough yield potential that it is unlikely to be failed after a boll count appraisal, or are still actively blooming and setting bolls. In these instances, the decision for the grower is how long they need to continue irrigation to finish out the last of their yield or if they are already past cutout by several days, when they need to terminate irrigation to the crop.

      In order to assist with those decisions, Dr. Mark Kelley and Dr. Wayne Keeling of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service have produced a timely reference document entitled, appropriately enough, "Texas High Plains 2011 Cotton Irrigation Termination."

      Growers considering irrigation termination are advised follow their usual management keys in relation to the maturity level of the crop and how long it is expected to take to mature the last of the bolls they will carry to harvest.

      A full version of the document, with detailed explanations of the various stages of growth that exist within the 2011 High Palins cotton crop, as well as irrigation management recommendations, is available on the Plains Cotton Growers website at



Want the facts about the U.S. agriculture and farm policy?
Get what you need at


Cotton Board Approves $80 Million Budget

for 2012, Elects New Chairman

      During its Annual Meeting in Durham, North Carolina, the Cotton Board reviewed and voted to recommend Cotton Incorporated's proposed 2012 budget of $80 million to the Secretary of Agriculture. The budget and plan, along with the Cotton Board's recommendation, will be forwarded to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for final approval.

      The Cotton Board elected John Clark as its Chairman for 2011/2012. Clark, an importer representative from Los Angeles, CA, thanked the Board for his election, saying, "I will work to represent all the members of the Board during the upcoming year." John Clark is the Vice President of Michar, LLC, which specializes in design, sales, sourcing, importation and distribution of all genders and ages of wearing apparel. Clark has been a member of the Cotton Board since 1998.

      The full slate of new Cotton Board officers is as follows: John Clark, Importer from Los Angeles, California, Chairman; Kevin Rogers, Producer from Mesa, Arizona, Vice Chair; Mike Sturdivant, Jr., Producer from Glendora, Mississippi, Secretary; and Gary Ross, Importer from Yardley, Pennsylvania, Treasurer.

      The Cotton Board also voted to recommend to the Secretary of Agriculture approval of a proposed $80 million budget for the Cotton Research and Promotion Program, developed and to be carried out by Cotton Incorporated. "The proposed budget represents a 13% increase from the 2011 plan and reflects an emphasis on innovation, stronger research programs, sustainability issues, and increased competition. Cotton Incorporated's proposed budget reflects many of the recommendations developed in March by the Cotton Board.

      The new Chairman, John Clark, holds a B.A. in International Relations and International Business from University of Southern California. He is also the Vice Chairman of the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel. He and his wife Suzanne have three grown daughters.


High Plains Water District Management Plan,

Amended Rules Available Online

      The 2011-2021 Management Plan and recently amended Rules of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 are now available for on-line viewing and/or downloading from the Water District's website at

      Visitors to the site will find links to the two documents in the blue-shaded box titled "Rule Amendments" in the upper portion of the web page.

      The management plan and amended rules were adopted by the High Plains Water District Board of Directors on July 19th to begin implementation of the district's 50/50 management goal of having 50 percent of the saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer as of Jan. 1, 2010 available for use in 50 years (2060).




      "Persons are encouraged to visit the High Plains Water District's web site to read or download the amended management plan and rules.  We ask that they contact the Water District office at (806) 762-0181, if they have questions," said General Manager Jim Conkwright.

      Created in 1951 by local residents and the State Legislature, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 is charged with the responsibility of conserving, preserving, protecting, and preventing waste of groundwater within its 16- county service area.


Find us on Facebook and Twitter!