High Plains Harvest Continues at Steady Pace

Friday, November 2, 2012                   By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The 2012 cotton harvest is progressing well across the High Plains, with some counties approaching completion while others are still in the early stages.

      Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents reported at Friday's Plains Cotton Advisory Group meeting that some counties in the central and eastern portions of PCG's service area are approaching 65 percent completion while some producers in western and southwestern parts of the area have finished up their peanut harvest and are now beginning to move on to cotton.

      Yields have been all over the map. A few producers have harvested cotton making more than four bales to the acre, but yields have been disappointing in many areas.

      Monti Vandiver, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent for integrated pest management in Bailey and Parmer counties, said that although quality is improving in that area, their average yield would be one to two-and-a-half bales per acre as compared to their average of two to three-and-a-half. He said that some fields looked really good in mid-July, but then the heat set in and many producers didn't have the irrigation capacity to keep up.

      Reports from the USDA-AMS Cotton Classing Office in Lubbock verify that quality is indeed improving. As of Thursday, the Lubbock office had classed 520,038 bales, more than half of that within the last week. Seventy-seven percent of cotton classed this past week was color grade 21 or 11. Average Staple was 35.45, Strength 30.21 g/tex, uniformity 79.93 percent and micronaire 4.0 for the week. Leaf grade for the week was 2.6.


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Weather Experts Say El Nino Has Fizzled

Friday, November 2, 2012                   By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Although forecasts earlier in the year called for a return of El Nino and a cooler, wetter winter, climate experts now say that a switch to El Nino is looking less and less likely and Texas has an equal chance for either a wet or dry winter.

      State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said on Thursday at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's West Texas Outlook and Assessment Forum in Abilene that the drought was likely to shrink considerably this winter, but may or may not break. However, Nielsen-Gammon said the early outlook for next winter is not promising, so rainfall through this spring and summer will be critical.

      Temperatures are a key factor, both Nielsen-Gammon and NOAA-Earth System Research Lab and University of Colorado at Boulder research scientist Klaus Wolter noted. If temperatures continue to trend above average, even normal rainfall may not be enough to counter drought, Wolter said.

      Wolter said he believes the chance of an El Nino revival over the next couple of months is about 20 percent.



RMA Finalizes 2012 Upland Cotton Revenue

Plan Harvest Price for High Plains Region

Friday, November 2, 2012                   By Shawn Wade

      The USDA Risk Management Agency has finalized the 2012 Upland Cotton Revenue Plan harvest price for areas of Texas with February 28 and March 15 sales closing dates. The applicable harvest price for these areas, which includes all of the counties in the Plains Cotton Growers 41-county service area, will be $0.73 per pound following the close of this area's October 1-31, 2012 tracking period.

      The Upland Cotton harvest price for other counties in Texas that have sales closing dates earlier than February 28 was also set at $0.73 per pound following the end of their September 1-30, 2012 tracking period.

      The 2012 Upland Cotton Revenue plan harvest prices are established during the applicable tracking periods mentioned above by calculating the average of the daily closing value for the December 2012 ICE cotton futures contract. The Revenue Plan harvest price is used to calculate if a revenue loss has occurred.

      The 2012 Upland Cotton Revenue Plan base price, which is used to establish the initial revenue coverage amount, was set earlier in the year based on the average of the daily closing value for the December 2012 ICE Upland Cotton futures contract during their specified tracking period. Producers in Texas counties with sales closing dates of March 15, which covers the PCG service area, have a 2012 Revenue plan base price of $0.93 per pound.

      Texas counties with February 28 sales closing dates have a $0.94 per pound 2012 Revenue plan base price, while counties with January 31 sales closing dates have a $0.91 per pound Revenue plan base price.



2011 SURE Benefit Estimator Now Available

Friday, November 2, 2012                         By Shawn Wade

      The final version of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service's highly popular SURE Benefit Estimator recently was completed and made available for download.

      Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Risk Management Specialist Jay Yates said that virtually all of the information necessary to estimate a 2011 SURE program benefit is available and has been incorporated into a new version of the SURE Benefit Estimator spreadsheet. The new spreadsheet is designated version 6.3.

      This version of the SURE Benefit Estimator has been updated to include all available information related to the 2011 crop year. Anyone who has used a previous version of the SURE spreadsheet is encouraged to download the new version 6.3 file before attempting to estimate 2011 SURE program benefits.

      Like all previous versions, version 6.3 of the SURE Benefit Estimator is a Microsoft Excel-based spreadsheet. The file is currently available for download from the Plains Cotton Growers website, located at http://www.plainscotton.org, and from the South Plains Profitability Project website located at: http://southplainsprofit.tamu.edu. A copy of Microsoft Excel is required to view and use the estimator.

      To be eligible for a SURE benefit, a farm must have: 1) at least a 10% production loss on a crop of economic significance; 2) a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for all economically significant crops; and 3) been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county by the Agriculture Secretary under a Secretarial Disaster Designation or in a contiguous county.

      Producers in counties that do not qualify through a disaster declaration may still be eligible if the actual production on the farm is less than 50% of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster.

      The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service developed the original SURE Benefit Estimator with assistance from Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. to help answer producer questions about the program.



FSA County Committee Elections

Begin November 5

      Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan M. Garcia announced recently that the 2012 FSA county committee elections will begin on Monday, November 5, with the mailing of ballots to eligible voters. The deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is December 3, 2012.

      Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can obtain ballots from their local USDA Service Center. December 3, 2012, is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than December 3. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office January 1, 2013.

      To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm also may be eligible to vote. Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate nominations during the nomination period, which ended August 1.

      While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,700 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.

      More information on county committees, such as the new 2012 fact sheet and brochures, can be found on the FSA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections or at a local USDA Service Center.



HPWD Director Elections in Precincts Three

and Four to be Held November 6

(Information provided by the High Plains Underground

Water Conservation District No. 1)

      Residents in District Directors' Precincts Three and Four of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 (HPWD) will go to the polls November 6 to elect a Board Member to represent them in groundwater matters for the four-year period (2012-2016).

      Carroll Cook and Mike Beauchamp, both of Friona, are candidates for the Precinct Three Director position, representing all of Bailey County, the portion of Castro County within the district, and all of Parmer County. Cook is the incumbent.

      Robert Meyer of Canyon and Lynn Tate of Amarillo are candidates for the Precinct Four District Director position, representing the portions of Armstrong, Deaf Smith, Potter, and Randall Counties within the district. Meyer is the incumbent.

      Deadline for filing an application for place on the ballot was 5 p.m., Monday, August 20.

      Created in 1951 by local residents and the Texas Legislature, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 is charged with the responsibility of conserving, preserving, protecting, and preventing waste of groundwater within its 16-county service area.

      (PCG EDITOR'S NOTE: A list of polling times and locations for Tuesday's HPWD general election are on our website at http://www.plainscotton.org.)



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