Widespread Rainfall Halts Cotton Harvest

Friday, October 23, 2015                By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Just as many Texas High Plains cotton producers were beginning to start their 2015 harvest in full force, a significant rainfall system moved across the area earlier this week, bringing the process to a complete standstill.

      According to data from the West Texas Mesonet, their station at Boys Ranch, located about 40 miles northwest of Amarillo, recorded almost eight inches of rain in a 72-hour period. The station at Muleshoe recorded almost four inches. Every Mesonet station in the PCG service area recorded at least an inch of rain this week.

      Severe weather accompanied some of the precipitation, but it is not known at this time if any cotton acreage was affected. The ten-day forecast for Lubbock currently calls for partly cloudy to sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-60s and lower 70s, and lows in the 40s. Depending on the amount of precipitation in a particular area, these conditions should allow fields to dry out by the middle of next week so growers can resume harvest. A slight chance of rain is in the forecast for next weekend.

      At the Lubbock classing office, 82,594 samples were classed this past week bringing the season total for this office to 102,731. Exactly 54 percent of the bales classed for the week and just more than 58 percent for the season so far are color grade 21 and better. Average leaf for the week is 3.37 and average length 35.3. Average micronaire for the week is 3.97 and 3.95 for the season.

      In Lamesa, 76,170 samples were classed this past week bringing the season total for this office to 113,867. More than 36 percent of the bales classed for the week and almost 49 percent for the season are color grade 21 and better. Average leaf for the week is 2.83 and average length 35.02. Average micronaire for the week is 4.37 and 4.40 for the season so far.

      These reports also are available directly at where all available weekly reports for the 2015 season are listed and linked.

      "From an agronomic standpoint, we generally expect quality issues from cotton that has endured high winds and heavier rains," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "Single rainfall events that do not include severe weather usually will not have a significant impact on fiber quality. Although we appreciate any precipitation we can get, timing is everything, especially at this time of the year, and we need to preserve as much yield and quality as possible."


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Borlaug to Keynote Texas Commodity

Symposium in December

      The fifteenth annual Texas Commodity Symposium will be held Wednesday, Dec. 2, in Amarillo in conjunction with the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show in the Grand Plaza Room at the Amarillo Civic Center. The free event will begin at 9:30 a.m.

      The symposium, which is hosted by the Corn Producers Association of Texas, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Texas Peanut Producers Board and Texas Wheat Producers Association, will conclude with the annual Ag Appreciation Luncheon, presented by the symposium and the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Ag Council.

      Julie Borlaug, the associate director for the Norman Borlaug Institute for Agriculture at Texas A&M University, will present the symposium's keynote address during the Ag Appreciation Luncheon. Borlaug will speak on the role of Genetically Modified Organisms, food safety and food security at both a domestic and international level. The Norman Borlaug Institute designs and implements science based agricultural development and training programs that guide the phases of agricultural industry from production to consumption to fight hunger and poverty among smallholder agricultural communities of the developing world.

      "As the granddaughter of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, Ms. Borlaug has a strong foundation of understanding agriculture's role in sustainably securing food resources for the world's growing population," TGSA Executive Director Wayne Cleveland said. "Her unique perspective and insight is sure to be of interest to those both directly and indirectly involved in the agricultural industry."

      Additionally, the symposium will examine a variety of issues that impact producers and the agribusiness sector. Featured topics this year include an update on transportation regulations, an agricultural issues panel, and program updates from NRCS and FSA.

      The event is made free of charge for attendees because of the generous support of symposium sponsors, including ARMTech Insurance Services, Bayer CropScience, DuPont Pioneer, High Plains Journal, Monsanto, and National Peanut Board.

      For sponsorship opportunities or more information, please call (800) 647-CORN (2676) or email


NCC: No More Constraints on U.S. Cotton Policy

Thursday, October 22, 2015 From the National Cotton Council

      The National Cotton Council opposes any efforts to further limit U.S. cotton policy in the World Trade Organization's (WTO) December Ministerial in Nairobi, Kenya.

      That was one of the key messages NCC President/CEO Gary Adams delivered here Wednesday in his testimony before the House Agriculture Committee's hearing: "Foreign Subsidies: Jeopardizing Free Trade and Harming American Farmers."

      Adams' testimony came as the Memphis-based NCC continues its active engagement with U.S. trade officials at the WTO, as well as with Congress, to ensure U.S. trade negotiators maintain a firm commitment not to accept any further concessions to U.S. cotton policy.

      He stated that there have been repeated comments from numerous countries for there to be "something more" done on cotton policy at this upcoming Ministerial but "we believe that the actions already taken by the United States with respect to cotton policy should be more than sufficient to allow U.S. negotiators to resist any further calls for concessions on cotton."

      Adams told the Committee that U.S. cotton farmers are indeed competing with international farmers who are benefitting from higher support levels. He cited a recent International Cotton Advisory Committee report that estimated average direct assistance to cotton production across all countries at $0.26 per pound – but only $0.07 per pound average support for U.S. cotton production.

      Adams also reiterated U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman's comments before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year that a defensive posture regarding U.S. cotton support is outdated and justifies a shift in focus to other countries' status regarding their WTO obligations.

      The NCC will continue to urge U.S. negotiators to push other countries to be as current and as transparent as the United States is with their domestic support notifications, Adams stated, while emphasizing that U.S. programs are not having a detrimental impact on world markets or producers in other countries.

      "Under the current farm law, U.S. cotton farmers are even more attuned to market conditions," Adams said. "For the U.S. cotton industry to sustain production and infrastructure, it is imperative that production and trade policies in other countries not put U.S. farmers at a disadvantage. I encourage the House Agriculture Committee and our negotiators to hold firmly to the position that agricultural markets have changed over the past decade, and that U.S. cotton policy has evolved in ways that far exceed the previous demands within the WTO. A cotton specific 'solution' focused on developed countries does not address the realities of today's global fiber markets."


U.S. Farm Policy Helps Farmers Fight Bad

Actors on the World Stage

Friday, October 23, 2015                     From Farm Policy Facts

      The full-scale reality of what American farmers are up against when it comes to competing with foreign treasuries rather than foreign farmers was the topic of a hearing at the House Committee on Agriculture this week.

      "We [have] learned that in many cases what foreign countries are doing is patently illegal under their World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, while in other instances, foreign countries are extending support to their agricultural sectors in ways that fly below the radar of WTO discipline," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway during opening remarks at the hearing. "And still in other cases, we [have] learned of countries getting a free pass to ignore WTO rules by declaring themselves developing, despite these countries having very mature, strong, and in some cases globally dominant agricultural sectors."

      Indeed, as the United States reformed its own domestic support for producers during the reauthorization of the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the farm bill, foreign governments were propping up their own farmers with massive subsidies while using tariffs and nontariff trade barriers to discourage American exports.

      On Wednesday, witnesses representing major commodity trade associations, as well as a university economics professor, ticked off examples for the Congressional panel to demonstrate how these practices have depressed U.S. prices and farm income and put the world's largest agricultural exporter at a distinct disadvantage.

      "Foreign governments subsidize their producers so egregiously that many of these countries produce far more sugar than the market demands," stated Jack Roney, the Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance. "Rather than store these surpluses, or close mills and lose jobs, as the United States has done, these countries dump their subsidized sugar on the world market."

      This dumping happens so frequently continued Roney that the "world price" for sugar does not reflect the market forces of supply and demand. "Sugar producers are responding not to world market signals but rather to domestic market prices and the government programs that sustain those prices," he added.

      A similar situation applies for U.S. cotton, where the government of China has been stockpiling cotton supplies and then increasing support for domestic producers. The result has been erratic price swings and reduced demand that have hurt American cotton growers who are operating largely without any kind of safety net.

      "China's fiber policies have been one of the largest factors influencing cotton markets over the past five years," explained Dr. Gary Adams, the president and CEO of the National Cotton Council.

      This reality flies in the face of farm policy critics who would have you believe that if America eliminated its farm support then other nations would follow suit. This hearing series on foreign subsidies coupled with a handful of studies on the trade-distorting policies of our international neighbors demonstrates, quite persuasively, why farm policy is essential for the survival of American agriculture.

      Unilateral weakening or even outright elimination of U.S. farm policy won't take us to a free market utopia without concessions from our foreign counterparts Roney concluded. "We would be sacrificing good American jobs in a dynamic, efficient industry in favor of foreign jobs in the countries that continue to subsidize."

      The point is well made. There are no more efficient farmers in the world than U.S. producers. But we cannot and should not expect them to compete against foreign governments.