La Nina Could Dissipate by May, NOAA Says

Friday, February 10, 2012                       By Mary Jane Buerkle

      After months of discouraging news about the seemingly endless drought conditions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center issued a discussion on a positive note, saying that La Nina is likely to begin winding down over the next few months.

      The discussion states that "a majority of models predict La Nina to weaken through the rest of the Northern Hemisphere winter 2011-12, and then to dissipate during the spring 2012."

      Justin Weaver, meteorologist in charge with the National Weather Service in Lubbock, said that although La Nina conditions are still in place right now, they aren't having as much of an effect as they did in early 2011.

      "(La Nina) hasn't been as effective at suppressing storm systems as it was last year," Weaver said. "All of the storm systems were well to the north last year, so we started behind the curve and never caught up."

      Weaver said computer models show a total dissipation of La Nina by May, just in time for the area's peak precipitation periods in May and June. He said that storm systems have dipped southward this year, noting recent snow and rain events in the area, and that moisture also is returning off of the Gulf of Mexico.

      "This year looks more normal to us, so far," Weaver said. "We're cautiously optimistic. These signs don't mean it's going to be an average or above average year, but it should at least be better than 2011."


PCG Issues Reminders Regarding Planting

Small Grain Cover Crops

Friday, February 10, 2012                               By Shawn Wade

Even though the final crop reporting date for wheat and other Fall seeded small grains is still several weeks away, producers planning to utilize a fall seeded small grain cover crop on non-irrigated cotton acres in 2012 are advised to go ahead and record the intended or, if applicable, final use of the small grain acres as a cover crop with the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Doing so prior to March 15 will help prevent a producer from running into any problems initiating crop insurance coverage on 2012 non-irrigated cotton planted into that cover crop.

In 2011 many producers had unexpected difficulties trying to fully terminate small grains intended for use as a cover crop due to the severe drought conditions that existed last spring.

That situation, combined with the equally unexpected impact that the inadvertent removal of long-standing cotton policy language governing the insurability of non-irrigated cotton planted into a small grain cover crop, put many producers at risk of losing the ability to insure non-irrigated cotton in 2011, despite doing what they had always done to be in compliance with crop insurance requirements.

Fortunately, once the situation was brought to its attention, the USDA Risk Management Agency acted quickly to preserve the insurability of those acres that were at risk and then initiated an update to its rules that will be in effect for 2012 and beyond.

The revised rule, which resides in each county's Special Provisions of insurance, states the following: "Insurance shall not attach or be considered to have attached on any acreage that is non-irrigated and from which, in the same calendar year: 1) a hay crop was harvested (including a harvested small grain hay crop); 2) a small grain crop planted and reported as harvest as grain reached the headed stage (regardless of the percentage of small grain plants that reached the headed stage); 3) a small grain was planted as a cover crop unless adequate measures are taken to terminate the small grain cover crop prior to heading and less than fifty percent (50%) of the small grain plants reached the headed stage; or 4) a crop was grazed past March 15."

The bottom line for producers wanting to utilize a small grain as a cover crop is to ensure that adequate measures are taken to terminate the small grain crop prior to heading and also to ensure that the small grain is properly reported as a cover crop to the USDA Farm Service Agency.


Cotton Incorporated to Host Price Risk

Management Seminar in Lubbock

      Cotton Incorporated is set to host a series of basic and intermediate workshops addressing topics such as market-based strategies for how to manage price risk for the 2012 crop season and tactics for integrating crop and revenue insurance.

      The Cotton Price Risk Management Seminars will be held in Maricopa, Arizona; Coalinga, California; and Lubbock, Texas.

      The Lubbock seminar will be Wednesday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Overton Hotel & Conference Center, 2322 Mac Davis Lane. This seminar is sponsored by Cotton Incorporated in cooperation with Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.

      The Arizona seminar will be Wednesday, February 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the U.S. Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center, USDA, 21881 North Cardon Lane, Maricopa, AZ. Market outlook will be given by Mr. Jarral Neeper, President, Calcot, Ltd. and Dr. O.A. Cleveland, Cotton Marketing Specialist. This seminar is sponsored by Cotton Incorporated in cooperation with Calcot, Ltd.

      The California seminar will be Thursday, March 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Harris Ranch, Coalinga, CA. Neeper will give the market outlook there as well. This seminar is sponsored by Cotton Incorporated in cooperation with Calcot, Ltd.

      At all seminars, instructors Dr. Carl Anderson and Dr. John Robinson will discuss when and how to use a variety of option strategies including: fences, 3-ways and calendar back spreads.

      No attendance fees are required to attend the seminars and lunch will be provided. To register, contact Kay Wriedt at Cotton Incorporated by phone 919-678-2271 or email Space is limited so please register as soon as possible.


TAWC Presents Production Agriculture

Planning Workshops

      With current drought conditions and uncertainty in the future of agriculture, water management has become increasingly important to West Texas farmers. In response, Texas Alliance for Water Conservation has coordinated a Production Agriculture Planning workshop that will be offered at two West Texas locations.

      The first workshop will be Tuesday, February 14 starting at 8:00 a.m. at the Bailey County Electric Cooperative in Muleshoe.  The second opportunity to attend will be February 24 starting at 8:00 a.m. at the South Plains College Sundown Room in Levelland. Both meetings will end around 1:30 p.m. and lunch will be provided.

      Designed to connect today's producers with the latest research information, the Production Agriculture Planning workshop draws on the knowledge-building tradition of field days.

      As part of the Pioneers in Agriculture series, topics to be discussed include High Plains Water District news; using the TAWC solutions economic decision making and water management tools; 2012 price outlook; comparative budgeting; and 2012 commodity market outlook.

      The Texas Alliance for Water Conservation is a unique partnership of Floyd and Hale county producers, data collection technologies, and collaborating partners that include: individual industries, universities, and government agencies. The TAWC project was made possible through a grant from the Texas Water Development Board.

      For more information and a final schedule for the field day, please visit the official Web site of the project: To RSVP to either workshop location, please call Angela Beikmann at (806) 742-2774.


HPWD Sets Public Hearing for February 21

      The Board of Directors of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District will hold a February 21 public hearing to discuss, consider, receive public comment, and potentially act on adoption of an enforcement policy/penalty schedule for violations of district rules.

      The public hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. in the A. Wayne Wyatt Board Room of the High Plains Water District office, 2930 Avenue Q, in Lubbock.  Comments may be presented verbally or in written form.

      The proposed enforcement policy discusses general guidelines, defines and establishes civil penalties for minor/major violations of District rules, and defines violations relating to groundwater production in excess of the allowable production rate (APR).

      In addition, the proposed policy includes a temporary moratorium on civil penalties for violations of certain district rules relating to the Allowable Production Rate during calendar years 2012 and 2013.

      "Temporary provisions in the proposed enforcement policy state that no fines will be assessed in calendar years 2012 and 2013 for persons who produce groundwater in excess of the allowable production rate," said Jim Conkwright, general manager. 

      "A fine of $15 per acre-foot in excess of the APR is proposed for calendar year 2014 and 2015.  It increases to $25 per acre-foot in 2016. The proposed policy will establish civil penalties that are substantially lower than the maximum amount authorized by state law," he said.

      A copy of the proposed enforcement policy and civil penalty schedule may be requested by e-mail at, may be reviewed during regular business hours at the High Plains Water District office in Lubbock, or is available on the District web site at


Area Ag Conferences Scheduled

The following area ag conferences have been scheduled for February:

February 13 Irrigation Meeting, Panhandle Contact Jody Bradford, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-537-3882.

February 23 Range Workshop, Lipscomb County Contact J.R. Sprague, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-862-4601.

February 27 Irrigation Strategies, Moore County Contact Marcel Fischbacher, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-935-2594.

February 28 Sandyland Ag Conference, Seminole Contact Terry Millican, County Extension Agent-AG, 432-758-4006.

February 29 Gray County Ag Conference, Pampa Contact Brandon McGinty, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-669-8033.

February 29 Ag Production Meeting, Turkey Contact Josh Brooks, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-259-3015.

      If you have another conference to add to this list, please call PCG at (806) 792-4904 and ask for Mary Jane Buerkle or email A complete conference list is at



The Cotton Pre-plant edition of

FOCUS on South Plains Agriculture

is posted at