Cotton Harvest, Ginning Seasons Ending;

Drought Expected To Continue

Friday, December 2, 2011                   by Mary Jane Buerkle

      The 2011 cotton harvest is coming to a close, and many High Plains gins will complete their ginning season within the next week or two.

      Cotton quality remains good in most aspects, with 89.8% of bales classed in the Lubbock office at color grade 21 and better for the season. Average leaf for the season is 2.01 and average length at 34.96. The Lubbock office, as of the most recent report released December 1, has classed 1,245,139 samples for the 2011 season. Grades for the Lamesa office are similar.

      Ross Barber with RJB Trading said that although the classing reports look good on paper, especially considering the growing conditions, the shorter staple remains a big issue.

      "When you get into a 34 and shorter staple, from a merchant's standpoint, there's not a home for that kind of cotton," Barber said, noting that about 35% of samples from the Lubbock classing office have come back with a 34 or shorter staple length on the season.

      Barber said that historically, about four cents separate cotton with a staple length of 34 and shorter from that at 36 and longer, but today, that difference is about nine cents.

      "You can sell it at a price, but not at a price reflective of the futures," he said, adding that longer-staple cotton grown in other areas of the Cotton Belt is hurting prospects for West Texas cotton.     

      Although some parts of the PCG service area have received some significant rains in recent weeks, and winter wheat is adding a little bit of welcome green coloring to the landscape, the outlook for significant precipitation in the short term looks grim at this point. Victor Murphy, climate services program manager for the NOAA/National Weather Service Southern Region, said the odds are 3-1 in favor of drier than normal versus wetter than normal conditions over the next few months. Murphy was one of several experts presenting at the Southern Plains Drought Assessment and Outlook Forum in Fort Worth on Tuesday.

      The entire state of Texas is still in a drought of some severity, with 82 percent of the state in extreme to exceptional drought as of November 29. Murphy said the drought is expected to persist through April in the West Texas and eastern and southern New Mexico regions, and that there is a less than 6 percent probability for the required precipitation needed to end the drought in these areas to fall in the next few months, which typically are drier months anyway.

      Experts warn that La Nina could return for a third year, although that is extremely rare, happening only five times in the last 100 years, according to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. He said that back-to-back La Nina events have occurred only ten times in the last 100 years, and that the last time for a third-year La Nina was in the 1950s. Nielsen-Gammon said that current ocean temperature patterns favor drought conditions similar to those in the 1950s and early 1960s.

      However, Klaus Wolter, a research associate with the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, noted that it is certainly possible that an El Nino episode, which brings unusually wet weather, could immediately follow the La Nina pattern, as has happened in the past. A return to the El Nino pattern next summer would indeed favor an end to the drought, Wolter said.

      For the most current information on the drought, visit


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2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences Program Released;

Early Registration Ends Dec. 14

      Cotton producers can gain valuable insight on practices ranging from pre-emergence weed control systems to precision agriculture at the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences 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 in Orlando, FL. Complete information about the 2012 Beltwide conferences, including a downloadable final program and links to online registration and hotel reservations, is available at December 14 is the deadline for Beltwide participants to receive discounted pre-registration pricing and also discounted room rates.

      NCC and Cotton Foundation members along with researchers, consultants, Extension personnel and association representatives can register for $125 through December 14. After that date, the registration cost is $150 for members of those groups.

      Registration and room reservations can easily be completed online by visiting the BWCC website, and clicking on the respective registration and housing links.

      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.


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Texas Commodity Symposium,

Ag Appreciation Luncheon Successful

      Almost 400 people attended the annual Ag Appreciation Luncheon on November 30 in Amarillo, where Texas Rep. Rick Hardcastle was the keynote speaker.

      The luncheon was the conclusion of the 11th annual Texas Commodity Symposium, presented by Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., the Corn Producers Association of Texas, Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Texas Peanut Producers Board and Texas Wheat Producers Association. The luncheon was an event of the Texas Commodity Symposium and the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Ag Council.

      Earlier in the day, attendees heard from Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist, who discussed the current drought situation and projections for 2012. Tom Sell with Combest, Sell and Associates updated attendees on current developments in farm policy. Texas Rep. Walter "Four" Price of Amarillo discussed the new agricultural sales tax exemption, and David Schanbacher with the Texas Comptroller's office talked about endangered species and their economic impact on Texas.

      Other featured topics included updates from the Texas Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with an update on a Conservation Innovation Grant from the North Plains Groundwater District and Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources' Water Center. The morning program ended with an expert panel discussing water issues.