Welcome to the June 2, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.
Ag Disaster Relief Grant Not Included in State Budget
A valiant effort to secure $50 million for disaster relief for cotton infrastructure for the 2022 crop year was unfortunately not included in the final budget and supplemental adopted by the Texas Legislature, despite approving a $321.3 billion budget for the biennium as they adjourned Sine Die over the Memorial Day weekend.
Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. is extremely appreciative of Sen. Charles Perry (District 28) and Rep. Cecil Bell (District 3), as well as South Texas Cotton & Grain Association and the Texas Cotton Ginners Association for the countless hours everyone spent advocating for this much-needed assistance to the cotton industry. Additionally, we would like to thank D. Williams & Co., Inc. as well as many other cotton industry affiliates for their assistance in this effort.
For context, Perry filed a proposed budget rider in the Senate on March 2, 2023 on behalf of the cotton industry that would have established a one-time agricultural disaster relief grant out of federal funds appropriated to the state from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The sole purpose of providing a block grant was to address necessary expenses related to losses of revenue by cotton infrastructure because of natural disasters — including drought during the 2022 crop year. At the behest of the industry, Bell filed an identical budget rider in the House.
Negotiations ensued and the budget rider was then elevated for consideration among Senate and House Conference Committees for HB1/SB1 and the Supplemental Budget SB30 respectively.
The rider ultimately was not included in the final legislative package, not for a lack of advocacy, but a lack of overall discretionary spending available in HB1/SB1 by the legislature and competition with repurposed funding available through ARPA within the Natural Resource category.
For reference, Texas was awarded federal funding through ARPA to be expended or obligated in seven general categories related to COVID-19 assistance. The Natural Resource category was the most applicable category in the supplemental budget for this issue. However, as the supplemental budget was completed, all unexpended and unobligated balances remaining in this category were repurposed for providing supplemental assistance to food banks in response to COVID-19.
While we are disheartened with the current outcome and still acutely aware of the severe financial strain on the overall cotton industry coming out of the 2022 crop year, I remind readers of this not to despair. If you recall, it took almost three years, multiple attempts and countless hours of strategy and strong leadership to ultimately enact the seed-cotton policy producers have today.
This effort relating to infrastructure support is no different in that perspective. While unsuccessful on this attempt, we simply have to regroup, restrategize and refocus on a long-term solution that will help ensure the survival of the cotton industry in times of peril due to forces outside our control.
US Ambassador Remarks at Cotton USA Seminar
This is an excerpt of the remarks given by U.S. Ambassador Pete Haas at the Cotton USA Seminar last month (May 2023). The full transcript can be read here.
Through substantial cooperation and collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and immense support from the cotton industry, Bangladesh conducted a risk assessment and concluded that U.S. growers, as of May 16, can now ship cotton to Bangladesh without any market access barriers.
For our American friends in the room, this is a major win that will unlock U.S. potential in this growing market.
As I am sure you are all aware, Bangladesh is the second largest global importer of cotton. It represents the seventh largest export market for U.S. cotton, exceeding $475 million in export value in 2022, and has one of the largest ready-made garment (RMG) export industries in the world.
For our Bangladeshi friends here today, this is also a huge win.
Previously, fumigation imposed a days-long delay in the delivery of U.S. cotton, with you, the Bangladeshi importers, picking up the tab, spending a million dollars annually.
Bottom line: U.S. cotton is the best in the world. It is high-quality and sustainable—and we have the data to prove it.
And now it is much easier for you to procure.
Working together with Bangladesh to solve this issue is a great example of how our two countries can collaborate to increase prosperity and remove trade barriers.
Kerry Siders Crop Report
Kerry Siders, is the Texas A&M University Extension Agent-IPM for Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties. He wrote this report for Cotton Grower’s Crop Scan report.
As I write this, it is raining. Now don’t for a minute think that I am saying that our drought is over, but only that we have been heading in the right direction the last few weeks. In May here at my office in Levelland, we received 3.28” of precipitation. Really nothing to brag about for spring rains. However, many parts of this and surrounding counties have had upwards of 7” during May.
This weather during planting has caused some delays and poor stands. Looking at some of my variety trials on the last day of May, I would say that 50% of those will need to be replanted. The soil temperature has been good, but our nighttime temperatures have continued to hover in the mid to upper 50’s — too cool.
Cotton here on the Southern High Plains of Texas is mostly planted. There are dryland acres which still need to be planted as soon as it dries enough to get back in the field. This weather has thrown us a curve ball in the completion of planting, but I think producers will stick with cotton for as long as they can and then may divert acres to alternative crops such as grain sorghum or corn.
Cotton stand evaluations are our priority as we visit fields. Most of our cotton acres are on 40” rows, so we generally count the number of plants in 13’ of row (1/1000th of an acre). We would consider 26 plants (2 plants per foot) in that 13’ space to be 26,000 plants per acre. This would be a minimum good stand on irrigated cotton. Ideally, your stand would have closer to 40,000 plants per acre or closer to 3 plants per foot. Dryland acres can dip down into the 19,000 range or 1.5 plants per row foot.
Weed pressure has really increased with these rains. As soon as planting is over and stands are established or maybe even sooner, producers need to turn their attention to weed management. Post-emerge herbicides like Roundup, Liberty, XtendiMax, or Enlist will need to be used along with the addition of a residual herbicide.
Another issue that producers will need to revisit due to the recent rains is their fertilizer program, matched up with a new realistic yield goal. We often do this recalculation too late in June or July and are behind the growth curve to do much good and can cause delay in cotton plant maturity. Here very soon will be the time to react to these rains.
Thrips have been light up to this point. As this cotton has been slow to grow-off and many acres are just now emerging, thrips could rapidly develop and be devastating. Fields must be scouted! A good field scout can pay for itself.