Plains Cotton Growers Congratulates House

Ag Committee on Farm Bill Passage

Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., applauds the U.S. House Agriculture Committee for their swift passage of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) with a bipartisan 35-11 vote. 

"This bill addresses our producers' primary concerns – price protection and a strong crop insurance program," PCG President and Slaton (TX) cotton producer Craig Heinrich said. "We appreciate the committee's hard work in getting FARRM passed quickly and in particular the leadership of Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson.

"We hope to see the process continue to move forward in order to have policy in place before the current farm bill's expiration on September 30," Heinrich said.

The bill includes key provisions for cotton. Producers will have a choice between the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), created by the National Cotton Council, or the Supplemental Coverage Option, first proposed by U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) in 2008.  Both of these options are in the House bill's crop insurance title. Producers would select one or the other depending on what best fits their operation. The STAX plan includes a reference price of $0.6861.

Other improvements PCG applauds include the establishment of enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated acreage, beginning with the 2013 crop year, and the opportunity to elect different coverage levels by practice, beginning with the 2014 crop year.


Experts Confirm Resistant Pigweed

in High Plains Fields

Friday, July 13, 2012                               By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Area growers and weed science experts have been suspicious for months now of resistant pigweed creeping into High Plains fields, and now it is confirmed that the problems are indeed in our own back yard.

      "Although the development of resistant weeds is not new in Texas, we are quite certain that we now have several locations of glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth in the Texas High Plains," said Dr. Peter Dotray, weed scientist with Texas AgriLife Research and the Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech. "Already this year, we have received numerous phone calls concerning weed populations withstanding two applications of glyphosate."

      Dr. Wayne Keeling with Texas AgriLife Research said that their staff first was made aware of potential problems in August 2011, when experts reported a couple of fields in Terry County where Palmer amaranth, more commonly known as pigweed or carelessweed, had survived multiple glyphosate applications, possibly exhibiting resistance. Their team immediately began collecting soil and weed seed samples for further study, and those samples and on-farm trials confirm weed populations that appear to be resistant to glyphosate.

      Keeling said that for the remainder of the 2012 growing season, producers should consider mixing a residual herbicide when glyphosate is applied POST over-the-top or directed. Additionally, a "zero escapes" strategy to hoe or plow surviving resistant weeds to keep them from going to seed is vital, he said.

      "Get rid of all escaped weeds," Keeling said. "That will limit the production of additional resistant seed and help prevent the problem from becoming even more widespread in the future."

      Dotray encourages growers to consider the following management strategies to prevent or delay the development of herbicide-resistant weeds:

      1) do not rely on a single herbicide or multiple herbicides with the same "mode of action" to control weeds in a single growing season and over seasons. Rather, use herbicides with different "modes of action";

      2) use tillage, at least once in a while, to help break up weed cycles. No weed has ever been reported that has developed resistance to tillage;

      3) use herbicides at their recommended rates. Reduced herbicide rates may select for biotypes with a greater degree of herbicide tolerance, and

      4) scout fields for weeds that are no longer controlled by herbicides. 

      Keeling noted that producers with fields along moderate- to high-traffic roadways should be especially vigilant of weeds that may move into fields from bar ditches.

      Dotray cautioned producers from immediately assuming that the unsuccessful control of weeds signals resistance, especially if there are multiple weed species in a field.

      "If you find a field where several different weed species were not successfully controlled, it is unlikely that weed resistance is the problem, but rather environmental conditions or application error may be the cause of the general weed control failure," Dotray said.

      Producers who repeatedly have sprayed fields with glyphosate this season and have surviving weeds should contact Keeling or Dotray at the Texas AgriLife Research Center, (806) 746-6101.


PCG Board Hears Update On 2012 Farm Bill;

Approves New Operating Budget

Friday, July 13, 2012                                      By Shawn Wade

      Members of the Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Board of Directors voiced a guarded level of optimism about the status of the 2012 crop to kick off the organization's quarterly Board of Directors meeting in Lubbock July 11.

      Overall their descriptions painted the picture of a crop that could still go either way, but that is in generally good condition despite the challenges it faces. The biggest challenge is the lack of a significant underground moisture reserve for the crop to fall back on should timely seasonal rains fail to materialize during the critical late-July, August, September timeframe.

      Reported crop conditions ranged excellent to poor across a widely variable range of crop ages. The reports also highlighted the fact that despite the precarious condition of some non-irrigated crops, acreage losses to date are still thought to be below the region's long-term average of 18-20 percent. They all noted that crop losses could remain at current levels with timely rains, but could just as easily climb should rainfall not materialize. Adding to the positive atmosphere were reports of scattered rainfall in the days prior to the meeting.

      In addition to getting a handle on the status of the crop, the PCG Board of Directors also received a 2012 Farm Bill and trade update from National Cotton Council Vice President, Economics and Policy Analysis Dr. Gary Adams of Memphis, TN; received a market update from Plains Cotton Cooperative Association CEO Wallace Darnielle; and heard a report on the status of PCG's efforts to work with officials of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 regarding implementation of new water regulations.

      During his report, Adams noted that the Agriculture Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives was in the process of marking up its version of the 2012 Farm Bill in preparation for possible consideration by the House. He noted that about halfway through the process the House Ag Committee bill was on track to include the safety net elements advocated by the National Cotton Council. He then described the differences between earlier Senate passed legislation and the House bill which includes the crop insurance-based Stacked Income Protection Plan proposed by the NCC for cotton with a reference price of $0.6861 per pound, NCC proposed modifications to the cotton marketing loan program, and a number of important crop insurance provisions.

      During the discussion of STAX and the House bill, the importance of the reference price to producers as a mechanism to protect against extended period of low prices was a central theme. PCG Board members stressed that maintaining the reference price was critical and needs to be among the industry's top priorities when the House bill moves forward and is eventually conferenced with Senate language that excludes this important feature.

      "Maintaining a reference price is of critical importance to High Plains cotton producers," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "With production costs well above the level proposed in the House bill, our members know that it will do little more that stem the flow of red ink should prices drop below that level and stay for an extended time. Its importance lies in the fact that it would be the only mechanism a cotton producer will have to protect them against the whims of an unpredictable world market."

      Among the crop insurance enhancements included in the bill was the new Supplemental Coverage Option insurance add-on, allowing growers to select different insurance coverage levels by practice, making the enhanced premium subsidy rates for Enterprise Units permanent, allowing for separate irrigated and non-irrigated Enterprise Unit coverage and increasing yield plugs to 70 percent of county T-yield.

      One of the first agenda items acted on by the PCG Board July 11 was consideration and approval of a FY2012-2013 Operating Budget for the organization totaling $858,837.41.

      PCG's FY2012-2013 operating budget includes continued support for the organization's ongoing legislative, regulatory and cotton research programs, as well as support for the Southwest Council of Agribusiness.

      The PCG Board of Directors also ratified adjustments to the organization's previous year (FY2011-2012) budget as recommended by the PCG Finance Committee and approved by the PCG Executive Committee. The FY2011-2012 adjustments continue the organization's support of Cotton Council International.

      PCG support of CCI is provided through a $100,000 grant, which is pooled with the money from other CCI industry supporters to sustain the organization's export promotion efforts. The combined industry funds are leveraged through matching funds provided by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) as authorized under current farm law and through non-cash contributions from other sources.

      PCG's support of CCI continues the 41-county organization's long-standing efforts to promote the use of High Plains cotton internationally.


SWCA, Texas Ag Forum to Host Southwest Ag

Issues Summit in September

The Southwest Council of Agribusiness and the Texas Ag Forum will host the inaugural Southwest Ag Issues Summit on September 9-11 at the Barton Creek Resort in Austin.

The Summit is an opportunity for agricultural leaders to discuss key issues facing agriculture. The event also provides the opportunity to network with fellow agricultural influencers in the industry. The Summit is an effort to help unite the voices of agricultural leaders, allowing them to better serve the industry as a whole and ensure the security of America's food and fiber producers.

Keynote speaker for the dinner event on September 10 will be well-known economist and futurist Dr. Lowell Catlett. Learn more about Dr. Catlett at

Platinum sponsor for the event is the Farm Credit Bank of Texas. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available; please contact Chris Snodgrass at or Mitchell Harris at

Registration is $300/attendee or $450 for an attendee and spouse. Golf packages are available as well.

More information about the Southwest Ag Issues Summit, including how to register and a tentative agenda, is at


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