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March 1, 2024

Welcome to the March 1, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Still Standing: The Fighting Spirit of Aud

Texas Panhandle Wildfires Burn Through One Million Acres

By Kara Bishop


If you ever want to know when you’re about to arrive in Canadian, Texas, just look for Aud.

Photo Credit: Jake Reeves, “Post Cards from the Panhandle” Facebook Group.

She’s a bright green dinosaur sitting atop a hill just south of the Hemphill County Seat. The creation of Gene Cockrell named after his wife, Audrey. A focal point for kids traveling to see grandparents in the summer and a symbol of happiness for a small Panhandle town.

And for the past few days, she’s been all over the news. Except this time, she’s surrounded by smoke.

Photo Credit: Chad Casey, Fox 4 Storm Chaser

Multiple wildfires began eating their way through the Texas Panhandle on Monday. With 50 to 60 mile-per-hour winds on both Monday and Tuesday with little containment progress, more than 1 million acres have burned. More land mass than the entire state of Rhode Island.

It’s a heartbreaking situation. People have lost homes, livestock, and loved ones. There are many photos on social media showcasing the devastation of land, cattle and communities.

You can find all the news you want to on this fire online. Everyone is covering it, so I’m not going to.

Today, I’m going to focus on Aud and what she represents.

I don’t know why Gene Cockrell made a concrete dinosaur and put it on top of a hill. A dinosaur statue seems like an odd thing to add to pastureland. Some say he did it to let the children know when they were almost home after long car rides. It’s a cool story and could be true based on the multitude of memories shared on social media of coming over the top of the hill and seeing Aud on their way into Canadian when traveling.

Whatever the reason, the dinosaur statue could not be more fitting for times like these. Most people believe that the Behemoth referenced in chapter 40 of Job in the Bible is a type of dinosaur. In verse 23 of that same chapter the text says, “Behold if the river is turbulent he (Behemoth/dinosaur) is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.”

The dinosaur mentioned there stood strong and never wavered though the river rushed at him. Fire rushed Canadian earlier this week, and Aud is still standing.

She represents the resilience of Panhandle Texans because they have been through it the past couple of years. Last May, our social media feeds were full of people trying to help Perryton after the tornado ripped through the town. Now, everyone is banding together to help Hemphill, Hutchinson and all counties affected.

Watching the ag community take care of their own is a beautiful thing, even amid devastation. While we wish so badly this tragic event had not happened, it does illustrate the beautiful dimension to humanity when we all come together.

Aud the dinosaur outside Canadian surrounded by scorched acres. But she’s still standing.

Plains Cotton Growers is praying for all those affected by the Panhandle wildfires. And one day, we won’t endure tragedy as Isaiah says:

“But now thus says the LORD…I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

How You Can Help:

Here are reputable crisis relief resources actively seeking to help our ranching neighbors – many of whom have lost land, livestock, and homes:

WRCA Natural Disaster Relief Fund

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Disaster Relief Fund


Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine Relief Drive

  • Accepting water, food and supplies at 7671 Evans Drive, Amarillo, TX 79106
  • Contact Tommy Butler: 806-228-0511

Texas Farm Bureau Texas Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund

Examples of Neighbors Taking Care of Neighbors

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Upcoming Events

Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference
Date: March 4-5, 2024
Location: McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, Lubbock, Texas

Plains Cotton Advisory Group Meeting
Date: March 8, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room

Auxin Certification Training – Lubbock 
Date: March 8, 2024
Location: AgriLife Research and Extension – Lubbock Center

Pesticide Applicators Training (To Obtain TDA License) – Levelland
Date: March 14, 2024
Location: Levelland, Texas

For a full list of upcoming events, see the Events Page.

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High Plains Planting Conditions Forecast – May 15, 2023

By Ken E. Legé, Ph.D.


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

High Plains Planting Conditions Forecast – May 8, 2023

By Ken E. Legé, Ph.D.


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 (  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.

Williams Family Named High Cotton-Southwest Award Recipients for 2023

By Kara Bishop

On February 14th, the Farwell community gathered in the high school gymnasium to celebrate the Williamses and their contributions to the cotton industry. 

The Williamses have produced cotton near Farwell, Texas, for four generations, according to Southwest Farm Press reporter Shelley Huguley. In the last 10 years they’ve expanded their operation 150 miles north to Dalhart. They produce cotton, corn, wheat and sorghum on roughly 18,000 acres of farmland. 

“My involvement with the Williams family began long before I came to work for Plains Cotton Growers,” said Steve Verett, producer in Crosby County and former executive vice president of PCG. “I met Bert first, which is Mark’s dad and one thing that always amazed me is how their family operation supported Bert, Mark, Mark’s two brothers and Bert’s son-in-law. They were all able to live off of one operation and were very successful farmers.” 

According to Verett and Shawn Holladay, producer in Dawson County and National Cotton Council chair, Mark was an influential contributor to PCG.

“Mark was always ‘looking over the hill,’ and futuristic in his approach to farming,” Verett added. “He was one of the first farmers to realize the water was depleting in Parmer County and started growing cover crops before we really even called them that.”

Holladay said Mark mentored him and encouraged him to increase his involvement in producer organizations. 

“I had been farming for a little over a decade when I began to get involved with Lamesa Cotton Growers,” Holladay added. “It wasn’t long before I expanded into the Plains Cotton Growers organization and Mark really took me under his wing. I owe a lot to him.” 

Mark served on many organizations and, according to his friends, “so supportive of his community and industry. If you wanted something done, he would help you.” 

He served as American Cotton Producers chairman, Plains Cotton Growers president and was the inaugural Southwest Council of Agribusiness president. Mark fought for the 1996 Farm Bill and remembers standing on stage with House Ag committee Chairman Larry Combest when President Bill Clinton signed it into law. 

“I can’t tell you what he means to me personally,” Verett added. “He was on the PCG officer team when we started ramping up our political advocacy. He is a lifelong friend and was a great encouragement to me over the years.”

The Williams farm includes Mark and his sons Ryan, Russel and Reagan, each playing different roles in making the operation successful. And while this award was given to the family, Ryan says it really belongs to his father. “This award is for my dad. He’s the one who deserves it.” 

Contributions from Shelley Huguley’s story in Southwest Farm Press were made to this story. Read Huguley’s article here.

PCG 66th Annual Meeting March 28, 2023

The Plains Cotton Growers Inc. 66th Annual Meeting will be held on March 28, 2023, at the Overton Hotel and Conference Center in Lubbock, Texas.

This year, online registration is available and highly encouraged.

What’s New

  • Tyne Morgan, host of the U.S. Farm Report will emcee the event and provide an agriculture industry outlook.
  • Keynote speaker John Kriesel will present during lunch, which is provided to all attendees.
  • PCG has partnered with the High Plains Journal and StoneX Group to provide workshops following the annual meeting.
  • High Plains Journal Cotton U Workshop
    • Legacy panel featuring unique farm partnerships
    • Breakout sessions:
      • Weed Management Challenges in 2023 by Dr. Pete Dotray
      • Sustainable Farming with the Water is Gone by Barry Evans
      • 2023 Farm Bill Outlook by Robbie Minnich
    • Farmer panel moderated by Crosby County Producer Steve Verett
  • StoneX Cotton Marketing and Hedging Workshop
    • Introduction to StoneX by Donna Hughes
    • Wheat and Small Grains Outlook by Dr. Mark Welch
    • Cotton Outlook by John Robinson
    • Crops, Fertilizer and Interest Rates Hedging by Jared Morgan
    • Risk Management Strategies- Futures, Options, and OTC Products by Bailey Thomen
    • CEU Credit Course by Texas AgriLife Extension Service
  • Cotton U Social Event

We are excited for this year’s event! Pre-Registration is highly encouraged.

Register Here

Download the Agenda

ERP Phase 2 Calculator Now Available

The Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase 2 Calculator is now available. This tool can help you determine eligibility for Phase 2 and provide an estimated program payment calculation.

Enrollment began yesterday (Jan. 23, 2023) and runs through July 14, 2023.

If you have any questions, call the office at 806-792-4904.