December Crop Report Lowers High Plains

Production Estimate to 1.93 Million Bales

Friday, December 9. 2011                   By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Texas High Plains upland cotton production figures continued on their season-long decline, dropping by 180,000 bales in the latest National Agricultural Statistics Service's Texas district estimates, which were released today.

      NASS estimates in their December report that the Texas High Plains will produce 1.93 million bales, down from just more than 2.1 million bales in their October report.

      Expected yields statewide dropped from 4 million bales to 3.7 million bales.

      Yield per acre estimates increased for the northern half of the Plains Cotton Growers service area, district 1-N, from 576 pounds to the acre up to 583. However, that number dropped from 536 down to 460 for the southern half, district 1-S. The report states that 4.61 million acres of cotton were planted on the High Plains, and 1.84 million acres are expected to be harvested.

      Quality this week suffered a little, with some slightly lower color grades at the Lubbock classing office. Still, for the season, almost 88 percent of samples classed have been color grade 21 and better. Staple length for the Lubbock classing office is just over 35 for both the week and the season.

      So far this season, the Lubbock and Lamesa offices have classed 1,664,764 bales combined.


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National Cotton Council Comments on

Child Labor Proposal

      The NCC co-signed comments to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to revise child labor regulations in agricultural and non-agricultural occupations, including regulations for determining and assessing civil penalties in child labor enforcement proceedings.

      An NPRM is a procedure used by government departments and agencies to gather comments on a topic before drafting a proposed rule. A Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is sometimes announced when additional comments are desired, before an actual proposed rule is submitted to the public for comment. The public has another opportunity to engage when a formal rule is announced.

      The proposal would implement recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as well as changes identified through the Department of Labor's (DOL) enforcement actions.

      In comments to the DOL, 72 agricultural organizations joined together to criticize the proposal as one which "would significantly curtail the employment opportunities available to youth working in U.S. agriculture…" The full comments are at

      The comments address misrepresentations in a Human Rights Watch report issued last year that DOL quoted in a press statement; raise concerns about DOL's interpretation of the exemptions for children working for their parents and as student learners; oppose new and additional restrictions on tractor and other power driven machinery use by minors; oppose the overly broad expansion of the Hazardous Occupation Orders (HO) relating to livestock, timber, construction, elevated surfaces, storage bins and silos; and discourage the DOL from issuing a new agriculture HO that would limit exposure of young farm workers to extreme temperatures.

      It is unknown when DOL will complete an evaluation of the submitted comments and a final regulation will be proposed, but the NCC remains engaged and is monitoring the process.

      The NCC also joined 38 other organizations in a letter to DOL, which asked for another extension in the comment period in order to further analyze the proposal and respond. The letter is available at


AgriLife Extension to Conduct Master

Marketer Short Course in Plainview

      The Texas AgriLife Extension Service will conduct a Master Marketer Short Course early next year in the Museum of the Llano Estacado on the Wayland Baptist University Campus. The museum is at 1900 West 7th Street in Plainview.

      The dates for the 2012 Master Marketer Short Courses are Jan. 17-19, Feb. 1-2, Feb. 15-16 and Feb. 29-March 1.

      "This program is designed for agricultural producers and agribusiness leaders experienced in marketing commodities who have some knowledge of the futures and options markets," said Dr. Jackie Smith, AgriLife Extension economist at Lubbock and a workshop coordinator.

      Smith said the nine-day, 64-hour course consists of intensive marketing training that focuses on cotton, feed grains, livestock and wheat.

      "The whole purpose of the course is to expose participants to a wide range of topics that will enhance their marketing skills from a real-world standpoint," Smith said. "We use many case-study examples and augment them with simulated problems to get the point across in the most straight-forward way possible."

      Smith said some of the key topics will be developing a marketing plan, basic and advanced marketing strategies, fundamental and technical analysis, marketing discipline and the impact of weather on commodity markets. Course instructors represent AgriLife Extension, several universities and private industry.

      "This award-winning program has been taught in Texas 23 times at 10 different locations and boasts almost 1,000 graduates," Smith said. "This will be its first time to be taught in Plainview though, so producers should make plans now to take advantage of this rare opportunity."

      The course has room for a total of 60 participants, but Smith urges those planning to attend to register now while room is still available.

      Individual registration is $300 due at the first class. Register online at The keyword is Master Marketer.

      A brochure and more information are available from your local AgriLife Extension agent or by calling Smith at 806-746-6101.


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New AgriLife Extension Program Aims to

Teach Farmers about iPhones/iPads

      The Texas AgriLife Extension Service is conducting a new project to develop and teach agricultural applications for iPhones and iPads to farmers.

      Five hands-on workshops, all with the same curriculum, are scheduled from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in January.

      Dates and locations are:

      - Jan. 9, Lamesa, Forrest Park Community Center, South 10th and Houston

      - Jan. 23, Lubbock, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 1102 East Farm to Market 1294

      - Jan. 27, Plainview, South Plains College, 1920 W. 24th St.

      - Jan. 30, Amarillo, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 Amarillo Boulevard

      - Jan. 31, Dumas, location to be announced

      "Our AgriLife Extension team will train producers to use these apps to more effectively manage risks in their business and improve their financial bottom line," said Dr. Jackie Smith, AgriLife Extension economist at Lubbock. "They'll learn to access market data to help evaluate relevant pricing strategies. They'll also improve their knowledge of costs and breakevens by using the Cost of Production app the team developed."

      Smith said other apps will relate to crop insurance, marketing plans, optimum irrigation water allocation and various time-saving calculators and other tools.

      Each workshop participant will have access to iPads with apps already installed, Smith said. They'll use case studies to improve their price and production risk management skills.

      Each workshop will be restricted to 30 participants. Husband-and-wife participation will only require one registration fee. Registration is $50 to be paid at the door by check.

      For more details on each workshop, go to and click on iPhone/iPad Workshops.

      To reserve a spot in any of the workshops call the Lubbock center at 806-746-6101 and ask for Viki.