Friday, October 21, 2011 by Mary Jane Buerkle
The wall of dirt that put Lubbock and the High Plains in the national spotlight on Monday proved to be a scary sight, but fortunately not too damaging for what cotton is left in fields across the region.
Reports indicate that some cotton was strung out and partially blown out of the bolls, but for the most part, the crop was spared from widespread destruction.
Although no one on the High Plains would turn away a good rain, moisture with this particular storm could have had a significant impact on quality, possibly spotting the cotton and affecting color grades, which generally have been good so far for 2011.
However, the winds, which in some locations topped 70 mph, most likely loosened the fibers in the bolls, meaning that another wind event could cause more damage. A good amount of High Plains cotton has been defoliated and is ready for harvest, but with some producers choosing to wait on a freeze, the rest of the acreage had a little protection from the extremely high winds and blowing dirt. Weather experts say that continued drought conditions could cause more of these instances to occur.
"We are thankful that although this wind was unlike anything we've seen in recent years, our growers can continue their harvest with little to no negative impact," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "Our gins may see a little more dry dirt on the cotton, but that should not affect the overall quality."
A gallery of dirt storm photos submitted by PCG Email Services subscribers from around the area is available on Plains Cotton Growers' Facebook page, which can be accessed at http://www.facebook.com/plainscottongrowers.
MEMPHIS Ð Cotton producers can gain valuable insight on practices ranging from pre-emergence weed control systems to precision agriculture at the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences Ð information that can help them improve their bottom lines.
The National Cotton Council-coordinated forum is set for January 3-6 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Conference information, including instructions for housing and registration, is available at www.cotton.org/beltwide.
The Cotton Production Conference general session will focus on what went right and wrong in the 2011 growing season, including what was learned from the extreme weather events across the Cotton Belt; proven marketing strategies; new farm policy development and impending regulations; and producing cotton with a changing arsenal of plant protection products.
The Production Conference's workshops will foster interaction between speakers and attendees on the challenges associated with such agronomic practices as herbicide resistance prevention/management, producing cotton without Temik, insect/weed management strategies when planting conventional varieties and irrigation, with a focus on scheduling.
Among other workshops will be one with entomologists and agronomists discussing their use of social media, such as Facebook and blogging, to disseminate timely information and to gather feedback with the goal of helping improve producers' in-season decision-making. As in the past, a workshop also will have allied industry representatives talking about new and emerging technology and products such as plant varieties, chemistries, equipment and software.
The Cotton Consultants Conference will be offered for the fifth consecutive year. It will offer insight gained from the 2011 growing season and a discussion on dealing with weed resistance management, particularly ways to enhance pigweed control, in 2012.
The Beltwide Cotton Conferences also include the Cotton Foundation Technical Exhibits and 13 cotton technical conferences.
Friday, October 21, 2011 by Mary Jane Buerkle
Crop insurance has proved necessary for the farmer this year, but for the gins, warehouses, implement dealers and other small businesses who cannot purchase that kind of coverage, the 2011 drought will undoubtedly bring financial challenges.
However, thanks to the U.S. Small Business Administration, those small non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of any size can apply for low-interest disaster loans through the SBA through February 24, 2012. The loans are designed to offset economic losses due to drought, excessive heat, high winds and wildfires since the beginning of 2011.
All 254 Texas counties and neighboring counties in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma are included in the disaster assistance.
Interest rates for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans are 4% for businesses and 3% for private, non-profit organizations with a maximum term of 30 years. Potential borrowers may qualify for up to $2 million through the program.
Agricultural enterprises such as farms and ranches are not eligible for this program. Those businesses should contact their county Farm Service Agency office regarding disaster assistance.
Applicants can fill out an application online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, call (800) 659-2955, email email@example.com, or visit SBA's website at http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Individuals with hearing impairments may call (800) 877-8339.