Hot Weather Encourages Texas High Plains

Cotton Crop Progress

Friday, July 24, 2015                          By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Thanks to 90-plus degree days and warm evenings, the Texas High Plains cotton crop has begun to catch up to what would be considered a more normal development stage for the latter part of July.

      Blooms are beginning to form across much of the area's crop, and over the next week, most plants should progress to that stage or even beyond in some fields. Heat unit accumulation for cotton planted around June 1 has caught up over the past couple of weeks to near average.

      Many producers report a good fruit load, although additional rainfall would be welcome at this point. Some areas to the north of Lubbock got that wish, although it came with hail and high winds which damaged some acreage near Sudan. The West Texas Mesonet station at Dimmitt recorded 4.49 inches of rain this week.

      Weed pressure is still high, and experts say that although farmers overall were more diligent about applying residual herbicides, heavy rainfall may have offset the projected benefit. Insect pressure is starting to pick up, primarily fleahoppers and lygus. Grasshoppers have plagued some portions of the PCG service area.

      "An August rain certainly would boost our yield potential, particularly in our dryland crop, but these plants are developing good root systems that are helping sustain them through this drier time," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "We've got a long way to go, but we're on the right track, barring any additional severe weather or an early frost."


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Mid-South Cotton Producers to See

Texas Operations

Tuesday, July 21, 2015     From the National Cotton Council

      Ten cotton producers from the Mid-South will see cotton and other agriculture-related operations in Texas on July 26-30 as part of the 2015 National Cotton Council's Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.).

      Sponsored by Bayer CropScience through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, the P.I.E. program is in its 27th year of helping its U.S. producer participants improve yields and fiber quality.  The program aims to help cotton producers boost their overall operation's efficiency by: 1) gaining new perspectives in such fundamental practices as land preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation and harvesting and 2) observing the unique ways in which their innovative peers are using current technology.

      Tour participants are: Arkansas – Cameron Boyd, Jonesboro; Louisiana – Adam Lemoine, Moreauville; and Victor Lemoine, Cottonport; Mississippi – George Jeffords, Jr., Greenwood; Bill Skinner and Bill Skinner, Jr., both of Macon; and Gerald White, Marks; and Tennessee – Jason Luckey, Humboldt; Freeman Smith, Brownsville; and Andrew Zarecor, Newbern.

      The Southwest tour will begin on July 27 in Lubbock where the group will get an overview of High Plains cotton production from Plains Cotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett, an update on managing High Plains weed resistance from Peter Dotray of the Texas Agri-Life Extension, and a tour of Bayer CropScience's research facility. Other activities that day include a visit to United Cotton Growers Gin in Levelland and tours of local cotton producers' operations as well as a visit to Sudan Coop Gin in Sudan and tours with cotton producers in that area.

      On the 28th, the group will visit Smith Farms in Floydada and tour Hurst Farm Supply in Lorenzo. While in Lorenzo, the group will receive updates on Texas water rights and GPS and soil monitoring technology.

      The next two days, the group will be in the state's Coastal Bend area. On July 29 in Corpus Christi, they will visit Stover Equipment Company, the Gulf Compress, the Port of Corpus Christi, Gatefront, LLC's fertilizer terminal and tour individual farms in the Odem area.

      The tour concludes on July 30 with a tour of the King Ranch in Kingsville and a visit to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Fish Hatchery in Corpus Christi.

      In this season's other P.I.E. tours, Southeast producers saw operations in California on July 13-16; Far West producers will visit Georgia on August 2-7; and Southwest producers will travel to Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi on August 16-21.


Cotton Game Week Features

Numerous Activities

Friday, July 24, 2015                                    By Mary Jane Buerkle

Those in the cotton industry who want to see the Texas Tech Red Raiders take on the University of Texas-El Paso in the Celebrate Cotton game on Saturday, September 12, at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock have a special promotional code to purchase tickets to that game.

Be sure you have your game tickets by visiting and entering COTTON15, or calling the Texas Tech Ticket Office at (806) 742-TECH (8324) and asking for the Cotton Game special pricing.

Individual tickets start at just $35 each, and the game time is at 2 p.m. Season tickets also are still available for purchase.

PCG has proudly partnered with Texas Tech Athletics to establish this fun event that puts the High Plains cotton industry on a national stage. Cotton will be everywhere before and throughout the game, from displays around the stadium to promotion, special graphics and fun cotton facts during the game.

Special gameday T-shirts will be distributed (first-come, first-serve!) and cotton bales will line each entrance to the stadium, each with signage talking about what the cotton in that bale can make or how it impacts our economy.

An addition to the Cotton Game festivities for 2015 is a runway show featuring cotton products, scheduled for Thursday, September 10, at 7:30 p.m. at South Plains Mall. The Texas Tech Retailing Association is assisting with coordinating the show.

Partners for Celebrate Cotton include AgTexas Farm Credit Services, Agri-Tech, Bayer CropScience, City Bank, Crop Production Services, Deltapine, Eco-Drip, Warren CAT, Hurst Farm Supply, and Wylie Implement and Spray Centers. Partnerships are still available; contact PCG for more information.

Several additional cotton-related activities are scheduled during Cotton Game week.

The Texas Cotton Association will host their Flow Meeting Thursday and Friday, September 10 and 11, at the Overton Hotel and Conference Center. They also will partner with the Lubbock Cotton Exchange and the Texas Independent Ginners Association to host a golf tournament on Thursday, September 10, at The Rawls Course.

The West Texas Agricultural Chemicals Institute Annual Conference will be Wednesday, September 9.

The Texas Ag Industries Association will host their Lubbock Regional Meeting on September 10.

For more information on any of these events, please call PCG at (806) 792-4904. Spread the word! Let's make this game a huge success for cotton!


Want the facts about the U.S. agriculture and farm policy?


Farm Policy Facts: Crop Insurance Critic

Plans Biased Research Project

Thursday, July 23, 2015                    From Farm Policy Facts

      The Center for Rural Affairs (CRA) just announced that it has launched a new initiative to weaken the nation's crop insurance infrastructure.

      And CRA is currently working on a research project to drive home its main criticisms – an effort that is raising eyebrows in both the agricultural and research communities.

      Dr. Mechel Paggi, associate dean of the Jordan College of Agriculture at California State University, Fresno, says that while CRA's ostensible goal of strengthening rural economies is laudable, its position on crop insurance is counterproductive in achieving that goal.

      "The very crop insurance system CRA criticizes strengthens rural economies and was widely credited with protecting the Midwest from financial hardship during the historic 2012 droughts and 2011 floods," he explained. "And it will be essential in dealing with future weather disasters, too."

      CRA's biggest complaint with crop insurance is that farming operations of all sizes and production methods from every region of the country are able to participate. CRA wants to exclude larger farmers from benefits, but Paggi says that will have unintended consequences.

      "Insurance premiums go down for everyone as more people participate and help spread out risk," he explained. "If you remove a group of farmers from crop insurance, particularly a group with lots of acreage, you drive up costs for the farmers who remain insured, which would be particularly painful for small and beginning farmers."

      CRA appears unmoved by that fact and is pressing forward with a "study" criticizing the system.

Farm Policy Facts was able to secure a copy of the questionnaire that will be at the heart of CRA's research, and we sent it to some researchers to see what they thought.

      Dr. Gary Feld, principal at PowerBase Associates, a research firm based in Alexandria, Va., wasn't a fan.

      "The group claims it wants to measure farmers' attitudes on crop insurance, but instead of asking unprejudiced questions, it simply requests farmers to back CRA's inaccurate representation of crop insurance," said Feld, who has worked in political research for more than 15 years and also served as senior analyst for the Los Angeles Times special investigations unit.

      "With each question, CRA presupposes a problem and then tests which of their policy prescriptions solves the straw man the Center erected," he explained.

      Jon McHenry, a vice president at North Star Opinion Research who specializes in quantitative and qualitative public opinion polling, agreed.

      "This is the equivalent of a national political committee fundraising letter.  They've stated in the cover letter their position on the issue, and proceed to ask respondents if they agree with them," he said. "This is a good way to build a fundraising or mailing list, but not a scientific way to measure public opinion."

      Perhaps raising money for CRA coffers is the real objective. Regardless, it is unfortunate that farmers continue to come under these kinds of attacks so shortly after Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill.

      Lawmakers strengthened crop insurance in the 2014 Farm Bill and recognized that in order to be successful, coverage must be affordable and widely available to farmers of all sizes and to a variety of crops. Legislators also realized that ensuring the economic viability of private-sector delivery is a pillar of success.

      "Crop insurance is the cornerstone of the farm bill's safety net and our job now is to make sure we don't do anything to mess it up," House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson explained in a recent editorial.

      "Quite simply, crop insurance is what keeps farms both big and small in business," he concluded.