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Texas High Plains Planting Conditions – May 20, 2024

By Ken Legé, Texas A&M AgriLife Cotton Extension Specialist for the Lubbock Center

Everyone watched the radar and mesonet closely last weekend in hopes of widespread rainfall of significant amounts.  A few fortunate areas did, in fact, receive that; however, coverage was much more spotty than the radar indicated.  That said, it gave the NM/TX state line area (e.g., Gaines, Yoakum, Cochran, Bailey counties) its first real precipitation event of the season.  Most of the region took advantage of the badly-needed moisture, with planters beginning to run as soon as Tuesday last week.  From that point, significant acreage was planted with fair to excellent soil moisture conditions.  With the temperatures that followed, cotton planted last week should face very favorable emergence conditions.  Some areas received rainfall mid-week that may have caused some crusting that will likely require some scratching to aid emergence.

Our program has been extremely busy planting the Southern High Plains Replicated Agronomic Cotton Evaluations (RACE trials).  We have a total of 19 sites planned, and we planted 5 sites last week, putting us just a little over 25% completed.  Commercial acreage in the Southern High Plains planting is a little ahead of that percentage….perhaps as high as 30-35%, from my observations.

Here are some highlights from this week’s planting conditions forecasts:

Texas Panhandle

  • Hot conditions today bring some relief mid-week, but there is also some wind to contend with.  By the weekend, average temperatures return.  Some rain chances are forecast early next week, which I hope turn into reality, as we will need it by then.
  • Soil temperatures are of less concern, with the West Texas Mesonet showing most stations in the mid-70s.
  • Soil moisture is the key, especially with warm air temps and wind early this week.  The seedbed can lose moisture quickly, so perhaps setting the planter one notch deeper may be a good idea to keep the seed in moisture.

Click on the image above to download the PDF.

Southern High Plains

  • Very hot temperatures are forecasted, especially for Lubbock-southward.  These air temps plus wind early in the week could very well push evapotranspiration (ET) levels over 0.5” per day, which is significantly higher than normal for this time of year.  Closely monitor seeding depth, and consider placing the seed a little deeper to make certain it remains in moisture during germination.
  • Soil temperatures are of less concern, with the West Texas Mesonet showing mid-70s to mid-80s at the 8” depth.
  • Our next rain chance is forecast early next week.  We will need another planting rain to complete the 2024 planting season.

Click on the image above to download the PDF.

If you want your specific location (down to the field level), you can access your own tailored planting conditions forecast on demand with a calculator from North Carolina State University.  Go to:  https://products.climate.ncsu.edu/ag/cotton-planting/  The map will default to a location in NC, but you can scroll the map to your specific location and click on a field.  Click ‘submit’ and the tool will provide a 2-day planting conditions forecast with commentary.

Another good resource for near-term and extended weather outlooks focused on cotton can be found at Cotton Cultivated, developed by Cotton, Inc.:

https://cottoncultivated.cottoninc.com/#  That website also has other very good sources of information on all-things cotton.

Texas High Plains Planting Conditions – May 15, 2024

Some folks were fortunate to receive good rainfall over the weekend, while others missed out.  We were hoping to plant a RACE trial somewhere today (Monday, 5-13), but all the grower cooperators who were ready to plant were either too wet or too dry…for those who do not live in West Texas, this is normal.  If you have moisture in your fields, it is ‘go-time’ for most of you!

Here is a summary:

TX Panhandle

  • Spearman & Panhandle:  be aware of the nighttime lows in the 50s, as well as the chance of rain on Wed/Thurs.
  • Dumas:  The low tonight is quite cool, so I would avoid planting today (Monday, 5-13), but the conditions remainder of the week look very good.

Click on the image above to download the PDF.

Southern High Plains

  • Plainview:  be aware of the nighttime lows in the 50s, and good rain chances Wed/Thurs; also be cautious about low and high temperatures on Thursday.
  • Lubbock & Lamesa:  If you have moisture, it is time to plant!   Moisture is the larger concern over temperature at this point.

Click on the image above to download the PDF.

We need to watch the precipitation forecast Wed/Thurs this week very closely.  The only rainfall predicted after that system is on Tuesday, May 21, but that is an eternity in West Texas.  For drip fields, light water pivots and dryland, remain alert and be ready to plant when a field receives some moisture.  For those south of Lubbock, there is ample time to plant the cotton crop; however, for those in the TX Panhandle and for some in the Plainview area, time is closing in with regard to moisture.   In the meantime, this is a great time to burn down any weeds that are present in the field.  Starting clean is key to making the most of your soil moisture.

If you want your specific location (down to the field level), you can access your own tailored planting conditions forecast on demand with a calculator from North Carolina State University.  Go to:  https://products.climate.ncsu.edu/ag/cotton-planting/  The map will default to a location in NC, but you can scroll the map to your specific location and click on a field.  Click ‘submit’ and the tool will provide a 2-day planting conditions forecast with commentary.

Texas High Plains Planting Conditions – May 6, 2024

I hope you were some of the fortunate who received rainfall over the last week.  Recent systems have generally favored the east side of the region.  Forecasters have some modest rain chances for this upcoming weekend and early next week, so let’s hope that actually happens.

Attached are the TX Panhandle  and Southern HP Planting Conditions Forecasts for this week.  Here are some highlights:

TX Panhandle Planting Conditions Forecast:

  • Colder temperatures are the trend for this week.
  • Time to park the planters in the panhandle until early next week.
  • Soil temperatures in the Panhandle at 8” generally in the mid-60s; when warmer air temperatures return, the seedbed should warm quickly.

Click on the image above to download the PDF.

Southern HP Planting Conditions Forecast:

  • Plainview:  similar to the Panhandle locations, I recommend waiting until at least Saturday (5/11) or preferably later (hopefully we get some rain by then).
  • Lubbock:  Monday through Wednesday this week (5/6 through 5/8) look tempting to plant cotton, but the cooler temps later this week and into the weekend cause concern.  Monday, 5/13, brings warmer temperatures and hopefully moisture.  Next week is when most growers will consider starting traditionally, and I am hopeful that conditions will improve by that time.
  • Lamesa:  Similar to Lubbock, conditions at Lamesa look very tempting Monday through Wednesday this week (5/6 through 5/8) to plant.  But cooler temps are forecasted for later this week and into the weekend with increasing chances of rain.  A warming trend is forecasted for next week.  Again, our data indicate that latter May and early June have produced higher yields in the entire area south of Lubbock, so we have plenty of time to plant the crop.
  • Soil temperatures in the Southern High Plains are in the mid-60s to lower 70s; when warmer air temperatures return, the seedbed should warm quickly.

Click on the image above to download the PDF.

If you want your specific location (down to the field level), you can access your own tailored planting conditions forecast on demand with a calculator from North Carolina State University.  Go to:  https://products.climate.ncsu.edu/ag/cotton-planting/  The map will default to a location in NC, but you can scroll the map to your specific location and click on a field.  Click ‘submit’ and the tool will provide a 2-day planting conditions forecast with commentary.

Texas High Plains Planting Conditions – April 29, 2024

By Ken Legé, Extension Cotton Specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Lubbock

I keep waiting to see the inevitable cold front that we normally receive in early May, but no signs of any strong cool weather yet. Still, there is still potential in the coming days so keep that in mind when making planting decisions.

Similar to last week, we are including two planting conditions forecasts, each with three specific locations. Each shows the high and low temperatures, as well as percentage precipitation forecast.  I have calculated the DD60s for each day, and a 5-d DD60 accumulation total for the next five days.  Then I’ve added some commentary to help you plan your planting operations.  Most comments indicate to consider your field’s soil moisture and soil temperatures.

2024 TX Panhandle Planting Conditions Forecast 042924

    • Spearman, and Panhandle, TX, forecasts are very similar; air temperatures from today through Wednesday certainly favor planting, but I would caution continuing to do so Thursday and Friday (5/2 and 5/3) due to cool night time temps.   By Saturday, the forecast favors resuming planting.
    • Dumas, TX, forecast is quite a bit cooler than Spearman and Panhandle; I recommend delay planting until at least Saturday, 5/4.
    • Soil temperatures are trending the lower to upper 60s, but that could change rapidly if we receive rainfall.  Monitor the region’s soil temperatures using the West Texas Mesonet (https://www.mesonet.ttu.edu/), but rely solely on a soil thermometer in your field to make the final decision.

To download the PDF, click on the image above.

2024 Southern HP Planting Conditions Forecast 042924

      • Plainview, TX, forecast shows some cooler than desired low temps from Monday (4/29) through Thursday (5/2), so I recommend delaying planting until at least Friday (5/3) or better yet, Saturday (5/5).  If the warming trend continues, next week is looking more favorable.
      • Lubbock, TX, forecast favors planting today (4/29) through Wednesday (5/1); the low temp forecast toward the end of the week seems variable (it changes quite a bit every time I looked at it over the last 24 hrs).  If we trend toward a cooler temp forecast for Thurs night into Friday, delay planting until Saturday (5/4) or even Sunday (5/5).  However, if the forecast for Thursday/Friday trends warmer, you could continue planting, if you desire.
      • Lamesa, TX, forecast shows much more favorable temperatures throughout the entire week.  It would be prudent to monitor the low temp forecast for Thursday/Friday (for the same reasons stated in the Lubbock discussion above).  From traveling in this region late last week, I’m sure the concern is much more about available soil moisture than temperature.  Plus, we have seen some great yield potential from June planting, so you have lots of time.
      • Soil temperatures are in the upper 60s to lower 70s, but that could change rapidly if the region receives any rainfall.  Use the West Texas Mesonet (https://www.mesonet.ttu.edu/following) to monitor the region, but rely solely on a soil thermometer in your fields to make the final decision.

to download the PDF, click on the image above.

Soil Moisture LBB 042624

Also included in this week’s forecast is a comparison of the U.S. Drought Monitor for the region from 2020 through 2024. While we’re not quite as drought-free as we were this time in 2020, we are more similar to 2020 than we were to 2021, and certainly not nearly as bad as 2022 and 2023 (years that all of us would rather forget!).

The picture below shows soil moisture status here at the Texas A&M AgriLife Lubbock Research and Extension Center in a conventionally tilled field at about 20” depth on Friday (4/26). (There was moisture even further down, I was simply tired of digging!). Certainly a good sign, but we realize that not everyone has that subsoil moisture. Perhaps this week’s rain chances will find your fields.

I will continue to send out these Planting Conditions Forecasts weekly throughout the planting season as an aid for planting decisions. These forecasts are not iron-clad, as you know, because the weather forecasts change frequently. However, the purpose of these weekly forecasts is to get growers and others who consult them to consider the temperature and rainfall forecasts in a logical manner before making the commitment to plant cottonseed, which is one of the highest input costs for a cotton crop.

If you want your specific location (down to the field level), you can access your own tailored planting conditions forecast on demand with a calculator from North Carolina State University.  Go to:  https://products.climate.ncsu.edu/ag/cotton-planting/  The map will default to a location in NC, but you can scroll the map to your specific location and click on a field.  Click ‘submit’ and the tool will provide a two-day planting conditions forecast with commentary.

I would also suggest that growers know the actual warm and cool germs on your lot(s) of cottonseed. The cool germ especially provides you with important information about realistic expectations on emergence.  Contact your local retailer or seed company representative who can provide you with that critical information.

High Plains Planting Conditions Forecast – May 15, 2023

By Ken E. Legé, Ph.D.

Panhandle: 

It looks like many of us received some much need rainfall these past several days!  Additionally, the 10-day forecast currently shows more chances to come.

If you are already planting, please make sure to keep an eye on soil temperatures and the ever-changing forecast.  As the attached shows, the forecast does not look good for cotton germination today,  but there are some opportunities otherwise.  I suspect many of you will be waiting on fields to dry enough only to have another shower sometime this week…a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

I have also attached a factsheet addressing the question ‘how late is too late to plant cotton?’  Bottom line:  plant as soon as you can, as yield tends to deteriorate later in May.  However, the yield decrease is rather small from week to week throughout May, so you can still make similar yields throughout the month.  Yields greatly decrease for fields planted after May 28.

Southern High Plains

It looks like many of us received some much need rainfall these past several days!  Additionally, the 10-day forecast currently shows more chances to come.

If you are already planting, please make sure to keep an eye on soil temperatures and the ever-changing forecast.  As the attached shows, the forecast does not look good for cotton germination today,  but there are some opportunities otherwise.  I suspect many of you will be waiting on fields to dry enough only to have another shower sometime this week…a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

I have also attached a factsheet addressing the question ‘how late is too late to plant cotton?’  Bottom line:  we have quite a bit of time remaining that we can plant cotton and expect to make very good yields and fiber quality.  It’s not quite time to panic yet, but take every opportunity between showers to put some seed in the ground when conditions are good.

USDA Seeks Nominees for the Cotton Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeks nominations of domestic cotton producers from Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, and importers of cotton and cotton-containing products for positions on The Cotton Board. The producers and importers will fill positions for 13 members and 13 alternates. USDA will appoint members and alternates to serve three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2024, to Dec. 31, 2026.

Certified producer organizations (CPOs) and certified importer organizations (CIOs) will hold caucuses to nominate two qualified persons for each open position in their respective industry segment.

Texas Producer caucus is scheduled for Thursday, July 20 at 2 p.m..

“The Cotton Board seeks to promote diversity and ensure equal opportunity and inclusion for all those who qualify for nomination and appointment to The Cotton Board regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, disability, socio-economic status, religion or sexual orientation,” says Bill Gillon, President & CEO of The Cotton Board. “Further, we strongly encourage certified organizations to keep in mind the benefits that diverse membership and leadership will bring to the Cotton Research & Promotion Program when considering individuals for nomination to The Cotton Board.”

For nominating and caucus information, including organizations seeking certification and a list of CPOs and CIOs, contact AMS’ Cotton Research and Promotion staff at (540) 361-2726 or CottonRP@usda.gov.

High Plains Planting Conditions Forecast – May 8, 2023

By Ken E. Legé, Ph.D.

Panhandle: 

Good to very good planting conditions persist throughout most of this upcoming week, but be aware of the rainfall and cooler temperatures forecast for the weekend and the first part of next week.  With the favorable temperatures for the better part of this week, I’m sure many of you will be able to cover quite a few acres of cotton.

As always, monitor soil moisture and temperatures closely, as each field is unique and present a different planting situation.

Southern High Plains

From a temperature perspective, good to very good planting conditions persist throughout most of this upcoming week; however, most of you are awaiting rainfall before planting cotton, and hopefully we have relief coming toward the weekend and first part of next week.

If you have some irrigated fields that you’ve been able to pre-water, you could certainly plant those the first part of this week.  However, I realize most of the irrigated fields will need to wait for a rain to plant, as will, of course, all dryland fields.

Continue to pray that the rain will materialize this upcoming weekend!

High Plains Planting Conditions Forecast

April 17, 2023

By Ken Legé, Ph.D.

The High Plains planting conditions forecast report shows DD60 accumulation over a week and a half in Lubbock, and Plainview, Texas, with predicted planting conditions for the next five days — this takes into account air temperature forecast.  In the comments section, I have placed comments that also take into account things like soil temps (via the mesonet) and the rain and air temp forecast.

This week’s report is simple:  I recommend waiting for better conditions, hopefully later next week, as we are forecast to experience temperatures that would be very conducive to chilling injury or even seedling death.

While this report only shows the forecast for Lubbock and Plainview, the intention is to check your local forecast and consider the temperature and other factors in making a well-informed planting decision.

Additionally, North Carolina State University has developed a very good tool to develop a similar planting conditions forecast to a specific location.  Find it here:  Cotton Planting Conditions Calculator – Products | North Carolina State Climate Office (ncsu.edu)  Simply scroll on the map to your specific location (you can drill down to an individual field, if you want), and hit ‘submit.’

Another good rule of thumb to consider during this time of year:  the soil temperature at seed depth will be within 10F of the low temperature (which is usually around dawn) for a 24 hr period.