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Cotton News

June 7, 2024

By June 14th, 2024No Comments

Welcome to the June 7, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Texas High Plains Crop Conditions Are a Mixed Bag, Per Usual

While planters are still rolling, it’s estimated that 75% of the Texas High Plains cotton planting has been completed. Some areas have received moisture over the spring while others are still coming up short.

An overturned pivot on U.S. Highway 87 north of Tahoka. PCG Director of Field Services Mark Brown said he saw at least 16 of these pivots overturned from the highway while traveling to Big Spring on June 6.

The storm that went through Levelland, New Home and Tahoka in late May wreaked havoc on the towns and surrounding farmland. PCG Director of Field Services Mark Brown said he counted 16 overturned pivots while driving to Big Spring on June 6. “And that was just what I could see from the highway,” he added. With Hockley County’s planting deadline already passed (June 5) and Lynn County’s planting deadline just around the corner (June 10), the damaged irrigation equipment is concerning for cotton producers in these areas.

While planting conditions are better on the Texas High Plains than they were last year, we’re still looking at a mixed bag of circumstances across the region. Producer reports show the good, bad and the ugly as cotton begins to emerge from the soil. “The leaf was laying right there on the ground and it just looked dehydrated,” said Walt Hagood, producer in Hockley County.

“I’ve seen those cotyledons kind of hunkered down and sometimes you dig and find the roots are in moisture,” said Ken Legé, cotton extension specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Lubbock. “However, when it’s 100 degrees outside, sometimes that soil is 120 to135 degrees, and the effect of the demand has those cotyledons folding.”

Subsoil moisture or rather the lack thereof is causing some challenges for producers in Lubbock County. “When the ground below is so dry, it’s like a big dead battery and it pulls the juice from what you’ve got on top,” said Lubbock producer Burt Heinrich. “The 100-degree weather is obviously a factor, but it’s also the dirt underneath that’s pulling the moisture down below where the root can reach. It makes the inch of rain you get a little more ineffective when the subsoil is parched.”

However, Heinrich went on to add that he has seen some good cotton in the area even with the subsoil challenges. “I would say it’s not the average yet, but a lot of cotton can become close to what we expect to see. We got a rain last night nearly everywhere on our farms, and any rain right now will help that little plant if it doesn’t storm it out.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Texas Crop Progress and Conditions Report released June 3, Upland cotton is predominantly in “good” condition at 47% for the week (ending June 2). South Texas’ crop appears to be in good condition, but producers down there are dealing with abnormal drought and need a good rain to maintain the progress they’ve made as they go into their harvest season.

Let’s all continue to pray for timely rains for our producers.

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FCIC Board Approves New Subsidy Rate for ECO Beginning with 2025 Insurance Year

The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors met May 23 and approved an increase in the subsidy rate growers will receive when purchasing the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO). This change will come into effect with the 2025 insurance year, which begins with policies sold after July 1, 2024.

With the change ECO will now receive a 65 percent premium subsidy rate – an increase of 21 percentage points from the endorsement’s current 44 percent level.

The change, which is effective regardless of the outcome of current farm bill discussions, brings the ECO endorsement subsidy to the same level as the existing subsidy rate provided for the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) endorsement. The higher ECO subsidy level could increase interest in ECO among producers by reducing the cost of the coverage.

ECO is a companion policy that can provide additional county-based shallow-loss coverage on top of the coverage provided by an underlying multi-peril revenue or yield policy and/or a Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) endorsement. ECO protection can be selected to cover losses beginning at 90% or 95% of a county’s expected revenue for the insured crop.

The ECO endorsement cannot be purchased when a producer buys the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) on cotton. Since ECO does not provide coverage that overlaps the protection provided by the USDA FSA Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program, a grower may participate in ECO and ARC simultaneously as long as they have not also purchased an SCO endorsement.

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