This Week: Cotton Harvest at Standstill;

Crop Insurance Cuts Repealed in Highway Bill

Friday, December 4, 2015               By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Another round of precipitation forced area cotton producers to freeze their progress last week, further delaying this year's harvest.  

      Rain, ice, and snow caused power outages, poor road conditions, and other problems around one of the busiest travel and shopping times of the year, and at a time when harvest activity across the region usually is beginning to come to a close.

      PCG estimates that, based on reports from industry representatives, producers, and ginners, that the 41-county service area is about 75 percent harvested as of press time. Some growers were able to get back into the field this week, but others may not be able to resume harvest until next week.

      "Many growers waited on a freeze that did not occur until just a couple of weeks ago," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "In addition to these weather delays, this is our largest crop since 2010, and it's just taking a little longer to get it all out of the field."

      Thus far, the Lubbock and Lamesa classing offices have combined to class about 2.12 million samples as of press time. Quality reports are posted on the PCG website each week at

      In another significant development this week, the House and Senate both passed a five-year, $305 billion Highway Bill that included a repeal to the crop insurance cuts included in the most recent federal budget. The bill currently is awaiting President Obama's signature.

      "This is a win for agriculture, although it certainly didn't come easily," Verett said, noting that opponents have continued their merciless assault on crop insurance, even during Senate consideration when Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) raised a point of order against the crop insurance provision in the Highway Bill, forcing a vote. That point of order was defeated 22-75.

      "I strongly commend House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for their leadership in ensuring that crop insurance continues to be available, affordable, and accessible to America's farmers and ranchers," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway said in a news release on Tuesday. "By including language in the Highway Bill conference report to fully repeal a provision that was designed to kill crop insurance, the Speaker and the Majority Leader are working to keep their promise to me and to all of rural America. I also commend Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster for agreeing to include this time sensitive repeal in the Highway Bill conference report."


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Beltwide Cotton Conferences Set for January

Friday, December 4, 2015 From the National Cotton Council

      Those planning to attend the 2016 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, set for January 5-7 at the New Orleans Marriott, can register and make hotel reservations at That site includes a schedule of events and general information.

      Registration costs before December 14 for the National Cotton Council-coordinated forum are: $175 for NCC/Cotton Foundation members, university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel, associations and consultants; $300 for non-NCC/Foundation members and $80 for students.

      On-site conference self-registration kiosks will be available 24 hours a day beginning on the evening of January 4. Beginning on the morning of January 5, NCC staff will be available for attendees needing assistance.

      The 2016 Beltwide will begin at noon on January 5 with a half-day Cotton Consultants Conference session that will focus on new developments from industry, including discussions and reports on new varieties, chemistries and emerging technologies.

      The next day's Consultants Conference will begin in the morning with updates on weed management strategies. In addition, entomologists will provide updates on the latest research with regard to the neonicotinoid insecticides including 1) their impact on pollinators and 2) possible replacements for this very important class of chemistry should alternatives become necessary. This session will conclude with a joint session of the Agronomy and Physiology Conference and the Soil Management and Plant Nutrition Conference that will be open to all attendees. Included in that joint session will be an overview of the current status of unmanned aerial vehicles and how they may be effectively integrated into a precision agriculture program to improve production efficiency and profitability.

      The 11 cotton technical conferences, ranging from agronomy to weed science, will meet concurrently beginning on the morning of January 6 and conclude by noon on January 7.



PCG Reminds Consumers to Buy Cotton

Friday, December 4, 2015                   By Mary Jane Buerkle

      With the holiday shopping season upon us, whether you're taking advantage of a sale to purchase something for yourself or satisfying a loved one's Christmas wish list, consider something made from cotton. This could be a pair of trendy jeans, a set of soft cotton towels or sheets, something for your favorite foodie, or even cold, hard cash – U.S. paper currency is made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen.

      According to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor Survey, holiday shoppers plan to spend $603 on holiday gifts, up from $589 in 2014. Eighty percent of consumers say they like to receive clothes as gifts, including T-shirts, sleepwear, jeans, and sweaters.

      If you need a gift for someone who enjoys cooking, a relatively new product to consider is flavored cottonseed oils from Acala Farms. These oils are heart-healthy with zero cholesterol and zero trans fat, and have a high smoke point. They come in fun flavors including fried shallot, hot habanero, jalapeno lime, sweet guajillo pepper, toasted cumin, smoky chipotle, fresh roasted garlic, chili cumin, fresh cilantro and curry spice, in addition to plain, pure cottonseed oil. Some suggested uses include drizzling it on warm pasta, steamed vegetables, popcorn or salad, or using it in cooking various meats. While Lubbock-area retailers have yet to bring the oils to their store shelves, you can find them online at

      The Cotton Incorporated survey also reveals that 78 percent of shoppers admit to buying items for themselves while purchasing for others.

      "As consumers, we must look for cotton in the things we purchase, whether it's for ourselves or as a gift," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "Take a minute to check the tag, because each time we purchase cotton products, we're helping ensure the success of our industry."




If you have a Texas Ag/Timber Registration Number,

you MUST renew by December 31, 2015,

in order to get a current expiration date!


Farmers, ranchers and timber operators cannot purchase qualifying items tax free

without a current Ag/Timber Number.


For more information, visit
or call 1-800-252-5555.


USDA Begins 49th Enrollment Period for the

Conservation Reserve Program

      Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently reminded farmers and ranchers that the next general enrollment period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) begins Dec. 1, 2015, and ends on Feb. 26, 2016. December 2015 also marks the 30th anniversary of CRP, a federally funded program that assists agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

      As of September 2015, 24.2 million acres were enrolled in CRP. CRP also is protecting more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times. For an interactive tour of CRP success stories from across the U.S., visit, or follow on Twitter at #CRPis30.

      "Over the past 30 years, farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts have made CRP one of the most successful conservation programs in the history of the country," said Vilsack. "Today, CRP continues to make major environmental improvements to water and air quality. This is another longstanding example of how agricultural production can work hand in hand with efforts to improve the environment and increase wildlife habitat."

      Participants in CRP establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as "covers") to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. At times when commodity prices are low, enrolling sensitive lands in CRP can be especially attractive to farmers and ranchers, as it softens the economic hardship for landowners at the same time that it provides ecological benefits. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish native plant species on marginal agricultural lands for the primary purpose of preventing soil erosion and improving water quality and related benefits of reducing loss of wildlife habitat.

      Contracts on 1.64 million acres of CRP are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2016. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.

      Since it was established on Dec. 23, 1985, CRP has:

       Prevented more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;

       Reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively;

       Sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road.

      Since 1996, CRP has created nearly 2.7 million acres of restored wetlands.

      For more information FSA conservation programs, visit a local FSA office or To find your local FSA office, visit


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Upcoming Area Ag Conferences

      December 8 – Swisher County Ag Day, 8 a.m., Swisher County Memorial Building, 127 SW Second Street. Five CEUs available. Individual registration $10, including lunch. RSVP by December 1 to the AgriLife Extension office in Swisher County, (806) 995-3726.

      December 11 – High Plains Ag Conference, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 1102 E. Farm-to-Market Road 1294, Lubbock. Five CEUs available. Preregistration with lunch: $35 by December 9 and $45 thereafter and at the door, with no lunch guarantee. More information: Robert Scott, (806) 775-1740,

      If you have a conference to add to this list, please call (806) 792-4904 or email