Friday, September 30, 2011 by Mary Jane Buerkle
Producers are preparing for what most likely will be a swift, brief harvest season this year as the stress from the heat and drought has impacted production even more than previously thought, in some cases.
Although some cotton in the area already has been harvested, the bulk of the region's crop will start coming out of the field within the next 10-14 days. Industry experts attending Plains Cotton Growers' Advisory Group meeting today report that the defoliation process is exposing even less yield than expected in many fields, and producers are subsequently working with crop insurance providers, shredding stalks and closing the books on that part of their 2011 crop.
Early classing results for Lubbock show good color, with more than three-quarters of samples grading at 11 or 21. Leaf grade is 1.99, with a 33.42 Staple. Other season average quality measurements are 4.00 Micronaire, 28.09 g/tex Strength and a Uniformity of 79.63 percent.
One quality concern this year, merchants say, is the short staple similar to what was recorded in South Texas cotton. This cotton, they say, likely will not ship quickly given current market conditions. Although season averages are hovering around the make-or-break point of 34 right now, that number will fluctuate with the increase in volume over the next several weeks.
It's too early at this point to estimate average yield, especially since growers are just now beginning to see the true prospect for this crop, but yields of a bale to the acre or less are expected in many fields across the central and southern portions of the PCG service area. Northern portions, on the whole, likely will see better yields because of the availability of water and a few timely albeit spotty rains.
"There haven't been many positive aspects to this season, but we are thankful that the crop insurance program has done exactly what it's supposed to do for producers Ð keep them afloat in a tough year so they can be around for the next year," PCG's Executive Vice President Steve Verett said.
The Texas Water Development Board's draft 2012 State Water Plan will be available for public comment from Sept. 26 through Oct. 25. The plan is available on the TWDB's website, www.twdb.state.tx.us, for review. Comments may be submitted in writing to Kathleen Ligon by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to P.O. Box 13231, Austin, TX 78711.
The public will have the opportunity to comment at a meeting on Monday, Oct. 3, at 6 p.m. at the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District office, located at 2930 Avenue Q in Lubbock. Representatives from the TWDB will be available to take comments and answer questions.
A formal public hearing on the draft plan will be on Oct. 17 in room 170 of the Stephen F. Austin building in Austin, also at 6 p.m. The Board will consider adoption of the plan at its Nov. 17 meeting.
The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional water supply planning and preparing the State Water Plan for the development of the state's water resources. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency enacted the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which would adversely impact cotton producers, cotton ginners, and other utility customers with increased energy costs and reductions in the reliability of electric service.
This rule, according to the EPA's website, requires 27 states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.
Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., and the Texas Cotton Ginners Association both have submitted letters to the EPS expressing support of a petition from Southwestern Public Service Company for reconsideration of this rule and a stay in the implementation of the rule.
"Before regulatory changes of the magnitude of the CSAPR are imposed on a state, it is critical that stakeholders and other interested parties be allowed adequate time to review the basis upon which the Agency made its decision and present arguments for or against that decision. Texas stakeholders were not given that opportunity," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said in the letter. "PCG strongly urges you to stay the implementation of the CSAPR. It is vital that the Agency's last minute decision to include Texas in the CSAPR's year-round emission reduction programs can be adequately reviewed and commented on by stakeholders."
According to the SPS petition, to comply with the CSAPR by Jan. 1, 2012, SPS will be forced to reduce operation of its coal-fired power plants and rely significantly more on natural gas-fired electric generation, causing a significant rise in electricity costs.