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Cotton News

September 15, 2023

Welcome to the September 15, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Plains Cotton Growers and Southern Southeastern Cotton Growers meet with the staff for Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA)

Three Days. 18 Congressional Visits, 16 Fundraisers. Roughly 35,000 Steps. PCG Goes to DC.

Plains Cotton Growers was busy this week, advocating for the Texas High Plains and state and national cotton industry interests in Washington D.C.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent brought the PCG officers — Brent Nelson, Martin Stoerner, Travis Mires and Brent Coker — to visit with Congressional members on the importance of averting a government shutdown, improving the farm safety net and passing a strong farm bill that will benefit producers and industry for the next five years.

Opinions from Congress on whether the government will shut down was a mixed bag. Some Senators and Representatives stated they didn’t feel it would get to that point, while others were emphatic that it would. PCG officers emphasized the implications for the cotton industry should that happen, speaking for producers, but also for the merchant segment as we near the harvest season.


Each officer had speaking points they discussed with members. Nelson spoke to the market loan rate and the need to raise the rate to accommodate for the rise in production costs. Stoerner emphasized the need to increase reference prices to address the same thing.


PCG Secretary/Treasurer Brent Coker, Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) and PCG Chairman Brent Nelson.

Mires stressed the importance of crop insurance for producers, saying, “We’d hate to lose any ground when it comes to crop insurance, and it would be great if we could strengthen it even more.”

Coker specifically addressed the need for a producer to have the ability to enroll in both the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) and the Price Loss Coverage  (PLC) program to further mitigate producer risk. “Adding this option to increase our access to risk management tools would greatly help us spread out our risk, while also accommodating the needs of the landowners from whom we lease the land,” he added.

Our officers took time off from their operations and busy family lives to advocate for agriculture, which doesn’t go unnoticed by government officials.

“It’s so important that we hear from you,” said Rep. Tracey Mann (R-KS) addressing PCG producers. “We can’t help you if we don’t know what your challenges are. Only you can give us the experience perspective.”

This was Coker’s first fly-in with the team. “It was eye-opening to see how involved the process is; how important communication and education is for these Representatives and Senators, but also the staffers,” he said. “It was a great experience and I was humbled to play a small part in the advocacy this week.”

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September 8, 2023

Welcome to the September 8, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Crop Outlook — IPM Edition

The Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service Entomology Department addresses water usage and pest conditions in their latest podcast. You can listen to it here: or read the breakdown by clicking on the tabs below.

Kerry Siders, IPM Agent for Cochran, Lamb and Hockley Counties

Kerry Siders, IPM Agent for Cochran, Lamb and Hockley Counties

It’s still hot and there are still a lot of questions about irrigation. I would encourage producers with a good crop to continue watering through this heat wave through Sunday. It looks like the National Weather Service is calling for a little break in the temperatures and even a little chance of rain for a good part of the High Plains next week, so I’d say that watering would be almost a must to get through this weekend.

The No. 1 thing is making certain that your crop can tolerate a certain amount of stress. If you have a late crop and those last bolls that you’re really counting on contributing to yield are not over 20 days old (set around August 15 through 20) then they should be able to take some moderate stress by this weekend. Again, if we see these temperatures go down to the lower 90s and into the high-80s to mid-80s, and man if we just get a little help, those crops should be in decent shape. However, we’ve got to be careful what we pray for. If we get a big deluge of rainfall my concern is we’ll see some regrowth occurring. That’s not going to help in any respect; in fact, it will make things more difficult when we get to harvest. I know we’ll always take a rain — we’ve all said this — and there’s not anything we can do about it. It’s just important to understand the consequences of a big rain from this point on.

Regarding insects, we have put most everything to bed. Still keep an eye out for cotton aphids and Lygus, but here in my territory, I have not been picking up on those insects. In fact, in terms of aphids the beneficials have pretty much cleaned them out, not just in cotton but also in some of our grain crops.

If we do get some rains next week and a lot of hard ground softens up, it would be a great time to get some nematode sampling done. I know a lot of y’all have questions about harvest aids — many of us will have that information coming soon about the timing and products. I hope to have some harvest aid demonstrations out soon that will provide you with some numbers.

John Thobe, IPM agent Bailey, Castro and Parmer Counties

John Thobe, IPM agent Bailey, Castro and Parmer Counties

Kerry said it best when he said we’re going to put some water to it and on it. I think a lot of my guys are speeding up pivots right now and trying to get that one last pass in —  maybe finish the pass they’re on.

I’m not seeing anything out there entomologically right now save for some stink bugs and things like that that are starting to work their way into cotton and sorghum heads just here and there. It’s not a huge concern yet. And the boll worms have gone from essentially a little bit of a potential threat to almost nothing so far.  Not to say they couldn’t be a potential threat here moving into the middle of September, but for right now we’re not seeing a whole lot of pressure there.

Keegan McCollum, IPM agent for Gaines County

Keegan McCollum, IPM agent for Gaines County

I want to echo what Kerry and John have both said about cotton with the potential rain coming next week. We really want to keep an eye on our watering. We don’t want it to get too growthy or late in the season, but most fields I don’t think are going to have a big issue as small as they are currently.

Blayne Reed, IPM agent for Hale and Swisher County

Blayne Reed, IPM agent for Hale and Swisher County

I still have a few fields of cotton that have a bit of lush to them and some bolls up top that have a decent chance of making. We’ve got a tremendous beneficial population taking care of any boll worm threat. We are still looking at some Lygus out there, and I’ve got a handful of fields with bolls up top that can make that are still at risk for those pests. We treated some fields late last week — I hope we don’t run into any this week. We do still need to be watching for aphids and the stink bugs.

Our late crops like 10% to 20% of our acres are still at peak water use – we’ve got time to make it, unless we get a September freeze, but we’re still running pretty high temperatures at night. This isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary. We’re still watching several fields with the most mature crops looking at irrigation management and being very careful about what drops we put where this time of year. Are we just boll filling or if we’re trying to water blooms that have no chance. Be careful this time of year and make sure your inputs will pay back.

September 1, 2023

Welcome to the September 1, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Cruz and Boozman Tour Texas; Told to Return Profitability to Agriculture

“The world is totally different now than it was two years ago,” Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) said, addressing the group at a round table for him and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Aug. 30, 2023. “We can no longer operate on prices that were set in 2012. It’s not just fertilizer and fuel that has gone up. It’s everything.”

Roughly 22 commodity and agriculture industry organizations were represented at the Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. John Boozman Roundtable held at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock. As the event moderator, PCG CEO Kody Bessent began, “Policy is like football. It’s a team sport and we’re glad to have a diverse range of agricultural groups with us today.”

The Senators listened as industry representatives discussed challenges experienced in their segments. All have been hurt by production costs stemming from higher interest rates and record inflation.

Click on the tabs to see the cotton industry’s feedback to the Senators.

PCG President and Floyd County Producer Martin Stoerner

Photo credit: Chris Corrado, Sen. Cruz Photographer

“An increase in reference prices is needed to combat the cost of production,” said Martin Stoerner, Plains Cotton Growers president.

Producer and Texas Farm Bureau State Director District 2 Walt Hagood

Photo credit: Chris Corrado, Sen. Cruz Photographer

“The 2022 Emergency Relief Program was approved by Congress last December and we still haven’t seen those payments. It’s becoming a real problem for producers and for the banks since farmers do not cash flow in these tough times,” said Walt Hagood, producer in Lynn, Lubbock and Hockley Counties and Texas Farm Bureau State Director for District 2.

Crosby County Producer, Southwest Council of Agribusiness Board Member Steve Verett

Photo credit: Chris Corrado, Sen. Cruz Photographer

“We need to raise the level of support — it’s not current to producer needs in 2023. In the meantime, this 2022 disaster assistance program needs to be implemented just like the ERP Phase 1 for 2020 and 2021. The reason we’re having to look at emergency-type programs is because our safety net is not adequate for the needs of today,” said Steve Verett, Crosby County producer and Southwest Council of Agribusiness board member.

Owner and CEO of Willingham Southwest Cotton Gin and Chair and CEO of South Plains Financial Inc. Curtis Griffith

“It’s tough for farmers to buy at retail prices yet sell their goods at wholesale prices — the cost/price squeeze really hurts them and us as their financial institutions,” said Curtis Griffith, owner and CEO of Willingham Southwest Cotton Gin and Chair and CEO of South Plains Financial Inc.

Crop Insurance Agent Gid Moore

“In regard to 2022 ERP, this is much needed by producers, and they would put it to good use if they could get it. It’s maddening that USDA hasn’t issued payments nine months after approval,” said Gid Moore of Moore Crop Insurance and Crop Insurance Professionals of America vice chair.

Rolling Plains Cotton Producers President Sutton Page

“I have a 5,000-acre farm and to some that seems big, but, in reality, I’m a small farmer that needs a great amount of capital to operate. It’s very disheartening to spend so much money on a crop just to see it run out of gas due to weather conditions. If there were extra money in the Farm Bill, the option to elect both STAX and ARC/PLC that would be a huge help for us,” said Sutton Page, Rolling Plains Cotton Growers president.

Farmers Cooperative Compress President and CEO Eric Wanjura

“I represent roughly 9,000 members who are either cotton growers or landowners throughout West Texas and beyond. These members rely on the Farm Bill, particularly the crop insurance provision — it’s crucial to their livelihood, and by extension, ours. Cotton is unique in that once the cotton is grown and harvested, it relies on a robust infrastructure to process the crop further — larger than that of grains. This cotton infrastructure depends on volume. These last several drought years where the volume has been down has hurt infrastructure, particularly the ginning industry, with no way to benefit from crop insurance as the producer does. If there is any meaningful way to include infrastructure in the Farm Bill, that would be helpful in supporting the cotton industry as a whole,” said Eric Wanjura, president and CEO of Farmers Cooperative Compress.

That afternoon, following the roundtable, Sen. Cruz visited the USDA-AMS Lubbock Cotton Classification Complex, the most advanced cotton classification facility in the world. Processing up to 50,000 samples per day, Lubbock supervisor Danny Martinez, showed Cruz the automated climate control laboratory and explained classing process and procedures.

Photo credit: Chris Corrado, Sen. Cruz Photographer

Cruz and his team wrapped up the afternoon by traveling to Brandon Patschke’s farm to learn more about cotton farming operations.

Photo credit: Blake Vineyard, Sen. Cruz staff

At the end of the day, Cruz said:

“Texas is an ag powerhouse nationally, but the role y’all play is at the heart of Texas and who we are. We all know this is a crazy time nationally. I think what’s happening in Washington right now is absolutely nuts. We’re seeing an extreme agenda being pushed in Washington. When I look at rural Texas, farmers and ranchers, y’all embody the common sense conservative values that make Texas Texas. You don’t have time to deal with a lot of BS other than actual BS. And I look at y’all and see that you are defending who we are as a state. You are defending the values that built Texas and that define you and I think that is incredibly important to making this state continue to be the incredible success story that we have been for so long. I have been proud for 11 years to keep fighting to keep Washington off of your backs to let you do what you do. You feed us you clothe us, you keep us alive and you keep our values alive.”

August 25, 2023

Welcome to the August 25, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

September Expected to Bring Average Rainfall; Above Average Temps

Generally, September is a wetter month for the High Plains region, and for the cotton that is still holding on, every bit of precipitation counts. 

KLBK Chief Meteorologist Jacob Riley presented the 2023 harvest weather outlook — specifically for the months of September through November — for the Plains Cotton Advisory Group today (Aug. 25, 2023).  “We will be focusing on temperature and precipitation trends,” he said at the beginning of the meeting, “As well as looking at how the drought will continue to progress around eastern New Mexico and West Texas.”

Riley presented Lubbock rainfall statistics showing Lubbock’s month-to-date rainfall at 0.07 inches. Average precipitation (data from 1911-2022) in September is 2.52 inches. Riley said that this September, the Lubbock area is projected to receive average rainfall, based off the forecast from the Climate Prediction Center. 

Average precipitation for September through November in the city of Lubbock, based off data from 1911 to 2022, is 5.17 inches. “We’re still going to see a warmer and dryer weather pattern throughout this growing season, but we are hopeful that El Nino’s system will bring a wetter growing season for 2024.” 

“September temperatures look to be around 77 to 80 degrees, which is slightly above the average of 77,” Riley said. “This will likely feature highs in the mid-90s with lows in the mid- to upper-60s.” 

The average temperature during the September through November time frame is roughly 61 degrees, also based off of data in the Lubbock area from 1913 to 2022. 

Based off the Climate Prediction Center forecast for temperature, the High Plains is looking at a range of 69 to 74 degrees from September to November. 

To sum up, Riley said that persistent dry and warm conditions will continue to influence our overall pattern, though bouts of cooler air and rain are expected. 

“As Earth’s tilt continues to change as we head into fall, we will start seeing more apparent pattern changes,” he said. “I believe we will undergo a more drastic change after harvest season as we head into winter. A cooler and wetter than usual winter is likely to begin late December into early January, hopefully replenishing ground moisture by the beginning of our growing season in 2024.” 

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The Cotton Board Approves 2024 Budget

Full Article Published by Cotton Grower here.

The Cotton Board members serving the Cotton Research and Promotion Program reviewed and voted to recommend Cotton Incorporated’s 2024 budget of $89 million to the Secretary of Agriculture — a $2 million increase from 2023.

“The 2024 Cotton Incorporated plan and budget remain focused on addressing several key industry issues to increase cotton’s market share and ensure long-term profitability,” said Cotton Inc. President and CEO Berrye Worsham. “Key priorities include enhancing supply chain transparency and cotton’s traceability, increasing producer profitability, enhancing cottonseed’s value, addressing contamination issues and using marketing to build demand for cotton.”

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August 18, 2023

Welcome to the August 18, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Fight for the Farm Bill

The August recess has allowed opportunities for producers and the cotton industry to discuss priorities and challenges with their elected officials. 

On August 16, a Farm Bill listening session, hosted by West Texas A&M University, was held in Canyon, Texas, where many cotton industry representatives gathered to provide Reps. Ronny Jackson and Jodey Arrington with their priorities for strong farm policy regarding the 2023 Farm Bill. 

PCG President Martin Stoerner, presented PCG’s priorities for the Farm Bill emphasizing the need to increase reference prices to reflect cost of production and to enhance crop insurance to further mitigate risk and alleviate the need for future ad hoc disaster assistance. Additionally, PCG supports abolishing the prohibition of a producer’s ability to participate in the Stacked Income Protection Program (STAX) and the Price Loss Coverage program (PLC).  

“Due to the elevated input costs we are now experiencing, the reference price is no longer as effective as when it was initially set,” Stoerner added.

Curtis Stewart, manager of Spade Cooperative Gin, Inc. communicated the need for infrastructure support. 

“Long-term assistance for infrastructure in the form of affordable insurance or intermittent disaster assistance for cotton gins, warehouse, merchants and other downstream industry is needed to help weather the woes of Mother Nature, which is outside our control.” 

Rep. Ronny Jackson, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, joined Arrington the next day in Lubbock for a Farm Bill Roundtable. Complementary to Martin Stoerner’s testimony at the Farm Bill listening session, producer and President of RPCG Sutton Page of Avoca, Texas joined PCG at the Lubbock roundtable and reemphasized cotton’s main priorities for the next Farm Bill. In response to the current prohibition of combining STAX insurance with PLC, Jackson said, “I have five top priorities that I’m pushing for in the Farm Bill this year. And the possibility to combine STAX with PLC is one of them.” 

Brady Raindl, director of USA Purchasing for ECOM USA and American Cotton Shippers Association (ASCA) director, emphasized the merchant/farmer partnership and encouraged both congressmen to remember the hardships of growing a cotton crop in West Texas. 

“As a merchandiser, farmers aren’t just customers to me,” Raindl said. “They’re my partner. ASCA supports an expanded safety net for producers, increasing the current reference price, and focusing on stronger risk management tools like crop insurance and measures to ensure healthy and financially robust markets. And as we consider increasing the safety net, we believe that it’s important to modernize the Marketing Assistance Loan Program to ensure that cotton can move into the marketplace in an orderly fashion without incurring unnecessary cost to stakeholders or government support programs.”

In his closing remarks, Arrington emphasized the need for program integrity across the board, including farm programs. And both Arrington and Jackson highlighted the fight that will happen for upcoming farm policy and how both are willing to ‘go to bat’ for an effective Farm Bill.  

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Plains Ginners Association Annual Meeting

The Plains Ginners Association annual meeting is scheduled for August 21 at the FiberMax Center for Discovery starting at 8 am.

The speaker lineup consists of Steve Friskup, owner/auctioneer of Clovis Horse Sales, Clint Kriehbel, Ph.D., TTU Davis College Dean; Darren Hudson, Ph.D., will provide an economic report; and Gary Adams, NCC President and CEO will provide a Washington D.C. update.

Lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the meeting and a golf tournament that afternoon. Sign up for the golf tournament here. 

Questions? Call the office: 806-792-4904.

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Current Pest and Crop Conditions

By Kerry Siders, IPM Agent for Cochran, Lamb and Hockley Counties

Cotton ranges from just starting to bloom to hard cut-out (0 nodes above white flower). Ideally, cotton will be blooming out-the-top by now, because we have reached that point when the odds of a bloom developing into a quality/yield contributing harvestable boll will drop considerably over the next few days. In fact, producers have probably noticed fields beginning to shed squares and some small bolls this week. This is a normal process of the plant making a final adjustment in what the plant can naturally hold and mature out. Though, producers should make sure that this fruit shed is natural and not induced by some insect like worms or Lygus. I have seen a few bollworm eggs around, but, between heat and beneficial insects and spiders, I am not finding any larva. I can still find a few cotton aphids as well and whiteflies. Most of these aphids are few and far between mostly due to the same beneficials working on the worms.

I would encourage producers to continue scouting for a few more weeks. By September 1 most cotton acres should have well over 400 heat units accumulated since reaching more than five nodes above white flower stage (August 5). This gauge of time tells us that a crop is safe from most insect damage.

Here of late, questions about irrigation have been more prominent. I will admit I get conservative with irrigation as we move into the last days of August and would rather err on the side of being too dry than too wet going into September. However, as hot and dry as we have been for the last four to six weeks, I am encouraging most to stay with the irrigation as long as is feasible. We have already had our chance of making quantity, now it is a matter of achieving quality through maturity. The last bolls set during this time need to be relatively stress free for 20 days (approximately September 8). So, if the plant recovers quickly from any wilting during a 90+ degree day then those last bolls formed should mature properly. Forty to 45 days after the last harvestable boll is formed (approximately September 30), the plant can nearly go into permanent wilt without impacting yield or quality.

So, bottom line, I am encouraging producers to stay with the water for another 10 to 14 days at least.

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August 11, 2023

Welcome to the August 11, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.


Correction: in the “Cotton News” newsletter sent out Friday, August 11, it said Texas Upland cotton yield was projected to be 773 pounds per acre. That number should have been 517 for Texas yield, as 773 pounds pertains to the U.S. estimate. We apologize for the confusion.

Cotton Foundation Educational Outreach Tour Visits West Texas

One of the greatest things about fulfilling the promotion pillar of the Plains Cotton Growers mission is the knowledge that there is humanity in everyone. We have ideas of agencies and organizations, but rarely understand the people behind them until we exchange viewpoints.

The Cotton Foundation Educational Outreach Tour brought 11 individuals — nine from the Environmental Protection Agency, one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Pest Management — to West Texas to learn more about cotton production here, specifically chemical application and needs of the producers in this area.

There were seven stops made on the High Plains leg of the tour. Click on the tabs below to learn more.

First Stop: PCG Office - Texas Cotton Production and Research Conducted on the Texas High Plains

FIRST STOP: Plains Cotton Growers Inc.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent provides an overview of cotton production on the Texas High Plains. The group was very interested in learning more about planting decisions and treated seed. Lubbock County Producer Rex Kennedy was able to give them an idea of what goes into these decisions from a business owner standpoint by explaining the technology in the seed has increased the value. “Decisions are made differently now,” he added. “We used to plant per pound and now we plant by plant population, which influences our economic decisions.

“Technology gives us better yields, no doubt; but there is a cost to that.”

Jane Dever, Ph.D., cotton breeding geneticist and professor/researcher for Texas A&M University AgriLife provided an overview of the research conducted to better meet the needs of producers in this climate. The group was able to see a variety developed by Dever on Jeremy Brown’s farm the following day.

Second Stop: Burt Heinrich Farm

SECOND STOP: Heinrich Farms

Lubbock County Producer Burt Heinrich provided an overview of drip irrigation. When it comes to spraying pesticides, he mentioned he’d rather not spray insecticide at all. “I want to protect my ladies (ladybugs, beneficials), so we work hard to prevent any need to spray. If the beneficials take care of it, we don’t have to.”

Heinrich also discussed the challenges of urban sprawl and farming. “Having a bug war in the city doesn’t work,” he added.

Heinrich explains drip irrigation to the Cotton Foundation Educational Outreach Tour participants.

Third Stop: Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area

THIRD STOP: Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved acceptance of land donation to create the new 14,037-acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Cochran, Terry and Yoakum counties in 2014. Today the acreage is closer to 16,000. The WMA’s mission is to provide refuge for the threatened lesser prairie chicken and other native grassland birds and wildlife.

The WMA adds two to three solar wells per year. The goal is to have one water source per mile to keep uniform grazing when using livestock on the land. While walking on the land, the group found a hog-nosed snake. Some admired from up close and some stayed a safe distance away!

Kelton Mote, Yoakum Dunes WMA biologist, gave some opening remarks on the refuge site. “One thing we know about lesser prairie chickens is they don’t like vertical structure so we try to keep mesquite trees out of the land and we do manage shin oak in this area as well so it doesn’t get too tall.” When asked why the lesser prairie chicken doesn’t like vertical structure, Mote said, “We believe it’s because of predators like the raptor. Anytime they see something taller than four feet, they think it’s a raptor roost.”

He also said the lesser prairie chicken, like other ground nesting birds, has a shorter life span than other birds. Eggs are easily taken out of nests when there is a drought. “These birds need cover, so when it’s really dry, they don’t have what they need to survive.”

From chick to adult, the lesser prairie chicken lasts about six months, Mote added, making it harder to keep population numbers up. But more than anything, this bird is heavily affected by drought.

In 2021, Mote counted 100 lesser prairie chickens on the WMA. In 2022, after a very dry year, he counted 50. This year was the same. “We’re optimistic because we’ve maintained that number for two years with really dry seasons — we haven’t lost more from 2022 to 2023.”


Fourth Stop: Jeremy Brown Farm

FOURTH STOP: Jeremy Brown Farm in Dawson County

Brown showed the group one of his wide-row, irrigated organic cotton farms. “You’ll actually find the majority of organic cotton produced in this region because of our climate,” he said.

Brown uses shallow tillage to help control weeds and the only fertilizer he uses are from livestock when they graze the land. “I am a big believer in soil health and regenerative farming. I want to take care of the land God has blessed me with,” Brown said.

Fifth Stop: Shawn Holladay Farm in Dawson County

FIFTH STOP: Shawn Holladay’s Farm in Dawson County

To illustrate responsible herbicide application, Holladay took the group to a conventional cotton field surrounded by dicamba-traited cotton. He had sprayed right up to the conventional rows and didn’t kill the non-dicamba cotton.

Just about every producer the group visited with on this leg of the tour stressed the fact that they didn’t want to spray fields for weeds or pests if they didn’t have to. “That’s money out of my profit,” said Shawn Holladay. “If I have to spray, I want to make sure that all conditions are right otherwise I’m throwing money away.”

Sixth Stop: Meadow Farmers Co-op Gin

SIXTH STOP: Meadow Farmers Co-op Gin

To further illustrate cotton production in the area, the tour stopped at Meadow Farmers Co-op Gin where manager Dan Jackson walked them through the ginning process.

Seventh Stop: Bayer Lubbock Texas Cottonseed Manufacturing Site

SEVENTH STOP: Bayer Lubbock Texas Cottonseed Manufacturing Site

As closing remarks were made before the group got back on the bus to head toward Sweetwater for the next leg of their tour, they were grateful for the producers and organization leadership who answered many questions over the last couple of days.

“We greatly appreciate you taking time away from your family and colleagues to come and learn about West Texas cotton production. We welcome your questions,” said Kody Bessent, PCG CEO. “We’re happy to answer as many as you want to ask. We may not always agree on the solutions to the questions that you are tasked with addressing as agency officials; however, we will always be an honest resource with you and never shy away from the conversation and how we can create solutions together.”

Farm Bill Listening Session Scheduled in Canyon

Congressman Jackson and Arrington would like to officially invite you to participate in a farm bill listening session in Canyon, Texas. With the farm bill deadline quickly approaching, this listening session will give you and your members the opportunity to discuss your priorities for this year’s farm bill.

The listening session details:

WHEN: Wednesday, August 16 from 5-6:30 PM

WHERE: West Texas A&M Piehl-Schaeffer Pavilion (600 WTAMU Dr. Canyon, TX 79015)

RSVP: Please call the office at 806-792-4904 if you’d like to RSVP to the event.

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WTACI Schedules 71st Annual Meeting

The West Texas Agricultural Chemicals Institute will host their annual conference on Thursday, September 14, at the Scottish Rite Event Center, located at 1101 70th Street in Lubbock.

This year represents the 71st meeting of WTACI, an unincorporated organization of dealers, industry representatives, agricultural producers, scientists, educators, and agribusiness members who support education and research programs promoting safe and effective use of agricultural chemicals and protection and preservation of the area’s natural resources.

Topics to be discussed at the conference include:

  • Weed control in herbicide-tolerant sorghum;
  • New chemistries for weed and brush control in range and pasture;
  • Endangered Species Act overview;
  • Beltwide cotton IPM research focus;
  • Semi-arid Agricultural Systems Institute research update; and
  • Australia cotton production overview compared to West Texas cotton production.

A total of 7 Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) CEUs will be available.

Pre-registration is available online. On-line registration fees are $75 for conference attendees and must be completed by September 8. Booth fees start at $300. On-site registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. the day of the conference and will cost $95 for attendees and $325 for booth sponsors. Lunch will be provided as part of the registration fee. 

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August 4, 2023

Welcome to the August 4, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Pictured (left to right): Mauricio Ulloa, Ph.D., USDA-ARS Research Geneticist; Zabardast Buriev, Ph.D., Academy Sciences of Uzbekistan Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics Director; Bunyod Mamarakhimov, Ph.D., Tashkent State Agarian University Center for Cotton Seed Production Director; Lloyd Arthur, Crosby County producer; David Arthur, Lloyd’s son; Shukhrat Otajonov, Ph.D., Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Department Head; Shodmon Namozov, Ph.D., Research Institute of Breeding, Seed Production and Agricultural Technology of Cotton Cultivation Director. Not pictured: Sherbek Ibragimov, Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Expert.

Uzbekistan Delegation Tours Crosby County Farm

While Uzbekistan is different than West Texas in terms of structure, history and climate, farming isn’t.

“It’s funny how just talking farming, we can all face the same challenges regardless of geographic location,” said Lloyd Arthur, Crosby County producer. “They have some challenges we don’t, obviously, and vice versa, but at the end of the day farmers can find common ground with other farmers no matter where any of us come from.” 

Uzbekistan has an arid climate similar to West Texas; however, it typically doesn’t get hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer with colder winters. Before USSR was dissolved in 1991, 100% of Uzbekistan crops were cotton. Today it’s 80%. 

Most of Uzbekistan cotton is hand picked. The supply chain is “in-house” in their country, as harvested cotton is processed, milled and spun all within Uzbekistan. 

“They do have more water than we do — most of it is flood irrigation,” added Arthur. “I showed them my drip irrigation and how we have to conserve water out here in West Texas.” 

The Uzbekistan delegation was brought out to our part of the world by Mauricio Ulloa, Ph.D., research geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), who has been collaborating with Uzbekistan since 2007.

The Uzbekistan delegation gifted Lloyd Arthur with tokens from their country.


ARS partners with the Uzbekistan Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics on cooperative research projects to control and identify resistance to the highly contagious Fusarium wilt pathogen, which threatens cotton production in both countries. The partnership also includes work identifying and developing resilient gerplasm to plant stress and diseases.

“While I have been in collaboration with most of these men for many years, this was their first time to come visit,” Ulloa said. “It was a great experience to be able to show them cotton in this part of the world. We appreciate Lloyd for showing us his farm, farm equipment, and sharing his farming practices with us.” 

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2023 Crop Outlook Better Than Last Year

Last August, PCG predicted 60% to 70% abandonment in the High Plains region for the 2022 crop. Turns out, the estimate was conservative as the actual percentage was just shy of 80%. 

Producers experienced a better start to the season for the 2023 crop, as much needed rainfall was received in the area. While some of the rain was problematic, most everyone agrees they would rather have rain than not, regardless of when it decides to come. 

Many PCG counties were able to get a crop up this year, different than last year, but another rain is needed to keep it going. 

Most of the northern Panhandle counties lost their cotton to poorly timed precipitation and storms, but with a good rain, the southern High Plains could see a much better dryland crop than last year. Even so, PCG is predicting a 35% to 40% abandonment for 2023.

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Pest Pressure Increase

The 2023 crop has seen more insect pressure than was present last year. However, the balance of beneficial bugs to pests has these IPM agents feeling optimistic.

Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties
According to IPM agent Kerry Siders, small clusters of three- and five-colony aphids are present in fields. For now, the beneficials (spiders, etc) are taking care of them. 

“But it wouldn’t take much to tip the scales in the aphid’s favor,” he added. “The wrong selection of insecticide could remove your beneficials, too, so make sure what you’re using is specific to aphids.” 

Gaines County
The beneficial pest population is “phenomenal this year,” according to IPM agent Keegan McCollum. 

“Our organic fields have had some Lygus problems,” he added. “And we have had some fields sprayed for stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs.” 

Bailey, Castro and Parmer Counties
“We’re on the lookout for boll worms this month as we have a couple of full moons coming,” said IPM agent John Thobe. “These full moons may increase the flight pattern, so we’re getting ready for that possibility.” 

Hale and Swisher Counties
IPM agent Blayne Reed noted that his fields have seen quite a few boll worm eggs recently and some worms have already hatched out, yet not quite at threshold. “While the beneficial populations are good, there is a lot going on in fields right now and we need to be alert.”

To listen to the High Plains IPM Podcast, click here.

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July 28, 2023

Welcome to the July 28, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Cotton field in Idalou, Texas. Photo taken July 21, 2023.

The Only Certainty This Crop Year

From plowed up cotton fields to neighboring crops that look like ‘the Garden of Eden,” the only certainty regarding this year’s crop is that there is none.

Cotton field in Spearman, Texas. Photo taken on July 20, 2023.

“As you travel through PCG counties, you can find pretty much whatever you want to find,” added Plains Cotton Growers Director of Field Services Mark Brown. “We’re still not sure what’s going to happen this crop year.” 

The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on July 12, has some people scratching their heads given the conditions seen in PCG’s region. 

While the July report did reduce planted acreage nationwide from 11.26 million planted acres to 11.09 million estimated planted acres, Darren Newton, cotton trader for Viterra, believes this to be too high. 

“Personally, I think our planted acres have been ill defined up to this point, so the August Farm Service Agency certified acreage report is going to be important this year,” Newton said. “However, the National Agricultural Statistics Service won’t use that data until the September crop production report and that should give us a clearer picture and more accurate projection.” 

The High Plains is not the only region facing uncertainty, which could affect projections further into the season.

“Last week I was out in Arizona and I have never seen as much cotton blooming out the top there at this time of the year before,” said BASF Western Region Agronomic Manager Kenny Melton.

Goanna Ag Vice President of Commercial Research and Development Paxton Peyton added that areas near Altus, Oklahoma, are really dry and just don’t have enough water to finish their crop out.

As has been said time and again, conditions across the High Plains are a mixed bag — some counties are faring better than others.

If there is any remaining cotton in the northern Panhandle, it’s behind and weather beaten. The picture on the right of the field in Spearman was the only cotton Brown has seen of late when traveling in that area.

Cotton field north of Dumas, Texas. Photo taken on July 20, 2023.

Floyd, Hale and Swisher Counties
Floyd County may be considered one of the bright spots of the High Plains. “It seems a little better there,” Melton said. “Some of the irrigated cotton there was planted late, but most is progressing well and looks good.” 

Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent-IPM for Hale and Swisher Counties said Hale County is down in terms of potential production, but Swisher is ‘not down as much.’

“We’ve got some good looking cotton in Swisher,” he added.  

Howard, Martin and Midland Counties

While some areas in the High Plains received rainfall in July, Howard, Martin and Midland Counties did not. “It’s really unfortunate because they actually had a crop up and things were looking pretty good there,” Brown said. “But they didn’t receive any moisture this month.” 

As to how this crop year will work out, only time will tell. 

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Don’t Delay Fertilizer Applications

In his newsletter this week, Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent-IPM for Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties, emphasized the importance of fertilizer applications by the end of July.

According to Siders, two things happen with late fertilizer applications on cotton. First, cotton maturity can be delayed. Second, aphids love this late excessive nitrogen.

“Producers should be vigilant in scouting fields for pests as many of them are applying fertilizer right now,” Siders said. “I occasionally see a cotton aphid, but beneficial insects and spider numbers are very good.”

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The Roller Coaster Ride of a Speculative Market

Wednesday, July 26th saw an uptick in the market price, the highest since March at 88 cents. However, the export report released the following day by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service showed a net negative in sales. With more cancellations than purchases, it looks like we took one step forward Wednesday then two steps backward Thursday. 

Darren Newton, cotton trader for Viterra, said this is how a speculative market behaves and even when the price begins to run up, it’s going to be hard to maintain without demand. 

“I’ve said it over and over again, but better demand needs to show up to build confidence in seeing higher prices” he added. “Supply helps but demand has to be there.”  

Newton emphasized the need to stay on top of the market as a producer. As was the case this week, you may only have one day to make a decision with how volatile the market has been.

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July 21, 2023

Welcome to the July 21, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Bright Spots in High Plains Crop Conditions: ‘Just Need a Rain’

Jon Jones, producer in Floyd County, “Our dryland is a little late, but we had a phenomenal rain this weekend. We’re thankful for it.”

As the Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Board of Directors made their introductions at the start of the meeting on July 19th, it became clear that crop conditions are all over the map in the PCG region.

While PCG Director of Field Services Mark Brown reported major losses (an estimated 70% of acres) in the northern Panhandle area due to heavy rains and storms during planting, most of the southern High Plains would be doing well if it rained soon. 

Both Lubbock County producer Dahlen Hancock and Dawson County producer Julie Holladay agreed that the irrigated cotton in their respective areas looks really good, even “pretty darn fabulous,” said Holladay. While Hancock added, “There have been a lot of guys work hard to make a crop this year and have put effort and inputs into it — fertilizer on dryland — so we’re optimistic but it needs to rain pretty quick.”   

R.N. Hopper, Hale County producer, noted that while the crop is slightly behind schedule, it looks good with good rains and no flooding, while Lubbock County producer Scott Harmon agreed.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent provided an update on PCG’s strategy for the 2023 Farm Bill legislation, Brady Raindl, cotton trader for ECOM provided a marketing report, while Hale County producer Steve Olson provided insight into global agricultural practices. 

“We’re blessed to farm in the U.S.,” Olson said. “and we should do all we can to pay that forward.”   

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USDA-NASS Publishes Annual Cotton Review Report

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service published its Annual Cotton Review report July 20, 2023. 

Final 2022 Upland Cotton production for Texas was estimated at 3.06 million 480-pound bales, down 60% from 2021. The average yield was estimated at 734 pounds per acre, up 68 pounds from last year. 

Acres harvested were estimated at 2 million, down 3.55 million acres from the previous year.

Final 2022 Upland Cotton production for the United States was estimated at 14.0 million 480-pound bales, down 19% from the previous year. The U.S. average yield for Upland Cotton was estimated at 942 pounds per acre, up 129 pounds from 2021. Harvested area was estimated at 7.13 million acres, down 29.7% from the 2021 harvested acreage of 10.1 million.


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July 17, 2023

Welcome to the July 17, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

PCG President Martin Stoerner discusses production challenges at the West Texas Farm Bill Roundtable with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

West Texas Farm Bill Roundtable with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

“Agriculture is a very high risk, high dollar enterprise,” said Kody Carson, past chairman of National Sorghum Producers. “Our farm bill budget is two-tenths of one percent of the U.S. budget. But if that’s too much to ask to feed underserved children and underserved individuals in the U.S., then we might ought to look at our priorities a little bit differently. Farmers aren’t asking for a handout. We’re asking for a level playing field in the world markets and in our trade negotiations so that we are viable to take care of the U.S. people that we love and believe in.”

The West Texas Farm Bill Roundtable with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was held Monday, July 17, at the FiberMax Center for Discovery in Lubbock, Texas.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and PCG President Martin Stoerner.

Moderated by Tom Sell of Combest, Sell & Associates, agricultural industry groups representing research and education, cotton, corn, dairy, sorghum and wheat, gathered to voice their concerns and needs to the Texas Senator.

While there were several cotton producers at the table, solely representing cotton were Kevin Brinkley, president and CEO of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association and Martin Stoerner, Plains Cotton Growers Inc. President. 

Discussion from all participants centered on the challenges of doing business as an agricultural producer, yet much appreciation was shown the Senator for his support of the industry and his recognition of the differences in geographic areas. 

“We need to make sure that West Texas is heard in Washington,” Cornyn added. “It’s very different farming here than it would be in Iowa or Michigan. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that works with legislation like the Farm Bill, which encompasses a diverse array of products, practices and landscapes.” 

At the conclusion of the roundtable discussion, a press conference was held where reporters asked Cornyn about Farm Bill status and challenges with the legislation. 

He said it was most probable that a Farm Bill would not be passed by the end of September, but rather extended toward the end of the year. 

“That doesn’t mean the work will stop,” he added. “The committees just need a little more time to write an effective bill to help our farm families.” 

He also noted that working across the aisle takes time, but that the bipartisan nature of the Farm Bill is what makes it effective. Cornyn said he understands and believes the Farm Bill to be of the highest priority to ensure our nation’s farmers and ranchers are able to feed and clothe the world while also staying in business. 

“We appreciate the Senator for supporting us as he has done for so long and coming here today to listen to what we need,” Stoerner said. “We were able to have a good discussion with Sen. Cornyn in Washington D.C. back in April and know he is a viable ally for cotton and all of agriculture in Congress.” 

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Crop Scan Ag Report with Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent-IPM for Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties

This report was originally published by Cotton Grower

Cotton ranges from 7 to 14 true leaves with square set/retention averaging a good +85%. I am just now starting to see first bloom in the more advanced fields. Generally, it will be after July 20 before we see cotton beginning to bloom, if not later in a good majority.

Our last effective bloom date (the date on which we can say with a high percent chance that a bloom will result in a harvestable boll) ranges from August 10-15, from Morton to Ropesville. So, if you do not begin to bloom until August 1, this gives you about 12 days of good bloom period, or time for about four first position bolls to be formed. In that scenario, yield is limited.

A field which begins to bloom on July 15 has about a 28-day effective bloom period, which can result in ~9 first position bolls. This is not counting second or possibly third positions in either case.

Cotton insect pests remain quiet. In the IPM Scouting Program, I have noted only a handful of adult fleahoppers. To date, none of these infestations have reached a threshold to justify treatment. Weeds continue to be the most dominant pest currently. A long-varied list of weed species is noted throughout the area, with Palmer amaranth still at the top. Remember, these weeds serve as host to many of our crop pests.

Another cotton issue that I am seeing and am concerned about as we move into another very hot period is heavy wheat stubble which served a great purpose back a few weeks ago as protection from the various elements, mostly wind. Now, however, it can be a detriment to the cotton since intact stubble can wick moisture from the soil.

I would encourage you to somehow break or sever that stem/straw from the roots. Using a sweep or knife to undercut this will help, or I have even seen stalk chopper units moved into the row middle and used to lay that stubble down, breaking that continuum of straw and roots and limiting the wicking effect.

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