Cotton – Southwest – Yields and Crop Status, So Far – AgFax

    Pivot irrigation in Texas cotton near Lubbock. Photo: Larry Stalcup, AgFax Media

    Larry Stalcup, Contributing Editor

    Debra Ferguson, Editor

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton, sponsored by the Southwest team of PhytoGen cottonseed.

    Many thanks to the PhytoGen Cotton Team!

    This is our final issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton for 2020.  We’re so grateful to Extension workers, crop advisors, dealer reps and others, who took the time to visit with us and offer insight about this year’s cotton crop. Thank you! Thank you!


    First the Weather. Hurricane Laura stepped up to a Cat 4 today (8/26) with strong fears that it may achieve Cat 5 status before landfall. Described as an “unsurvivable” 15 to 20 feet surge by the Hurricane Center, Laura is forecast to come ashore Wednesday afternoon. Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas are under evacuation orders. So far, the storm is expected to miss the Upper Coast cotton areas southwest of Houston. They can expect rain, but nothing like the Hurricane Hanna downpours that flooded the Lower Rio Grande Valley fields in late July.

    Dicamba. This week, Peter Dotray commented that “with or without dicamba, life will go on…” To learn what other consultants are thinking about 2021 strategies, scroll down to AgFax News Links – Dicamba Ban In 2021 – Got A “Plan B”?

    Cotton Yield and Status Report:

    Coast pickers are hauling in above-average yields as farmers enjoy a sigh of relief. Our crop advisors report dryland yields of 2 and even 4 bales per acre.

    Blacklands growers are also reporting strong yields.

    Brazos Bottom irrigated fields are knocking 4 bales, while dryland may suffer from late-season dry patterns.

    The Panhandle, southern Kansas and Arizona are eyeing good late-season growth, but need an open fall to finish the crop.

    Southwestern Oklahoma missed key rainfall needed for peak growth.

    West Texas woes continue as dry, and hot weather won’t go away.

    South Plains irrigated fields are promising, but a late summer rain wouldn’t hurt.



    Paul Pilsner, Pilsner Consulting, Wharton, Texas:

    “We’ve had our fingers crossed the past few days and it looks like Laura will miss the Upper Gulf Coast. We’re fortunate because growers are on the downside of harvest and sure didn’t need a hurricane.

    “Yields have been pleasant in most places and are above average. My first field went 2.5 bales after I thought it would make 2 bales. That’s good for dryland cotton. Quality was also good and 3 cents above loan. A few guys pushed harvest too soon to beat rain and may face some grade problems.

    “Growers are seeing good results from the new varieties. There was a legitimate report of 4-bale dryland from a new PhytoGen variety in the Corpus area. You can’t argue with that.

    “The only harvest snags have been with the newer machinery. The electronics are a little frustrating. Growers are also paying more attention to contamination from module wraps that can hurt quality.”


    Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Corpus Christi:

    “The Coastal Bend crop from Victoria south is about 75% picked. There are no issues, so far. The plots we’ve picked are easily 2.5-bale cotton and much is at 3 to 3.5 bales. I don’t have any grades back, but the quality looks pretty good. There is minor sprouting but not enough to ding us on loan value.

    “It looks like the Upper Coast is not in Hurricane Laura’s path. They are in the middle of harvest and don’t need any setbacks. My plot in that area has yields that averaged 3 bales. Not all of that will be that good, but the crop is still pleasing.

    “Most Coastal Bend fields have been harvested, shredded and tilled for boll weevil eradication compliance.” 


    Danielle Sekula, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Lower Rio Grande Valley:

    “Guys are still picking up the pieces after Hurricane Hanna, which wiped out what would have been an excellent crop. I’ve only seen a handful of farmers with fields to harvest and I’m not sure about the quality. In driving through the region, most activity involves shredding stalks and chiseling fields that were zeroed-out by insurance adjusters.

    “There is still a September 1 deadline for destroying stalks to meet Boll Weevil Eradication guidelines. No one wants to miss that date due to coastal rains that always seem to hit us. For many, this was the third year to see a good cotton crop ruined by heavy rain or a hurricane.”


    Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo:

    “Most cotton in the Panhandle is blooming out the top. Producers have started turning off their irrigation, although there are a few northeast fields still getting watered. They want to make sure they get a boll fill and offset the heat stress we had last week.

    “If we have a warm, open fall many producers hope they can make 4 bales. It depends on whether we have enough heat to finish out the later planted crop. Many fields north of Amarillo have lower bolls that are cracking and starting to open. They were planted in late April or early May. Producers with fields planted in late May and early June are the ones deciding when to stop watering.  

    “Dryland production is extremely variable. North of Amarillo dryland has a chance to make it. But nearly all cotton southwest of Amarillo remains highly stressed from drought and heat, which will impact yield potential. It was hard to keep up with water demand even under irrigation.

    “While areas north of Amarillo have had good precipitation, hail damage also occurred. Many producers lost crops due to hail north of Dalhart, and near Stratford, Spearman and Stinnett. Fortunately, most of those storms were localized and will not prevent good yields if we have an open fall.”


    Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock:

    “Cotton is moving along just fine and seems to be maturing on track. As of late last week, many fields planted in late May to early June are passed cutout.

    “Cotton that has made it this far looks to be in good shape, but there is widespread variability. Most of the South Plains dryland did not make it through the early hot, dry weather. Dryland that did made it will likely yield in the half-bale range. Irrigated fields with plenty of water should be pushing 3-plus bales per acre. Everything else is between there and the poor dryland projections.

    “Water is still the limiting factor. The past several weeks brought scattered rainfall to the High Plains, but in general, conditions are mostly dry. The short-term forecast continues to show dry conditions with warm temperatures. Growers with irrigation should try to keep up with crop demand for the next few weeks.

    “As we approach September, we remain hopeful that the warmth holds and allows us to finish this crop. We should continue scouting for insects to make sure positions on the plant are protected. We’re nearing the final stretch of the season. This is no time to let our guard down.”


    Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield:

    “South central Kansas has a big chunk of cotton that looks gorgeous, even though it could use a little more rain. I’m in a field of variety evaluation trials this afternoon (8/24) near Oxford, and most of it is ranging from 2 to 3 NAWF.

    “Fields that received rainfall before the drought in early June look good and are in the 2 to 3 NAWF range. Anything that got planted and emerged from that point is doing well, and has good yield potential of 1.5 to 3 bales. But later planted cotton that missed the good rain, could be in trouble. It is still at about 8 NAWF, so it’s not very hopeful unless we have a long, warm fall.

    “There are still fields with mixed emergence and we’re waiting to see how they will turn out. A lot of fruit likely won’t mature unless we have an exceptional fall.

    “I’m not aware of any late insect pressure. Weeds are also in check. Things seem calm and quiet. We hope it stays that way.”


    David Kerns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Professor and Statewide IPM Coordinator:

    “This part of the Blacklands is virtually done. Most cotton is ready to defoliate, and later-planted fields are close to it. Yield potential looks good, even though we’ve been dry the past month. The dryland will suffer and there will be a mixture of yields depending on when it was planted. The irrigated in the Brazos River Bottom has strong potential and could hit 4 bales per acre.

    “Bollworms were not as bad this year. They showed up in late June and were here through mid-July. The 3-gene Bt stuff held up well, and most 2-gene did also. A little spraying was needed on the tail end of bollworm activity. The earworms were also not as severe in corn this year.

    “If you have soybeans, you will have stink bugs. Beans are at R-6.5 and 7 making them vulnerable. Red-banded stink bugs are the ones to watch for this late in the season.”


    Haley Kennedy, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Runnels, Tom Green & Concho Counties:

    “Different week, same story – hot and dry. The Concho Valley has continued to face these conditions this summer. Most fields missed the mark of getting enough rain to be beneficial. Irrigation water has been pushed to the limit. Production will be hampered. Only a few areas will have respectable yields.

    “Thanks to high populations of beneficials, insects have been held down and egg lays have been controlled. I’m still scouting for stink bugs in irrigated fields, but there are no major issues. Even spider mites are in lower numbers this year.”


    Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock:

    “Bollworm pressure is light. Most fields are safe from economic damage. Cotton that accumulated at least 350 heat units after cutout, about 5 NAWF, are typically safe. But late-planted and heavily irrigated fields with harvestable young bolls need to be watched.

    “I haven’t seen many stink bugs, but there are a few and they can cause damage up until plants receive 450 heat units after cutout. I’m not seeing many aphids, likely due to a high number of beneficials. But guys still need to scout for aphids and lygus.

    “There are a few reports of armyworms on pigweed. If fields are Bt they should be protected.”


    Peter Dotray, Texas Tech University Weed Scientist (joint appointment with Texas A&M AgriLife), Lubbock:

    “Even though the region remains dry, we can still see weed flushes erupt when there are spotty showers or even end-of-season irrigation. Our data shows late-season pigweed and other weeds coming up in September can shed hundreds of seeds.

    “We feel growers will do a good job of controlling those late flushes, because most have managed weeds effectively this crop year. They may need to layby herbicide treatments that contain soil residual activity. Large weeds may need spot sprays or growers might have to go in and chop to eliminate seed production.

    “The situation involving the loss of the dicamba label is on our minds. We don’t know what the new labels will look like. When the labels come out, we will be having meetings this fall to address weed control options. With or without dicamba, life will go on and we will help growers find solutions to weed management for 2021.”


    Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma:

    “Cotton is on time for cutout. The irrigated is 4 to 5 NAWF and yields will approach 3 to 3.5 bales, but there won’t be much 4-bale. Where there was plenty of water, the crop looks good. There was a big fruit shed where water was short.

    “The irrigated still needs rain to get the most out of it. The dryland, however, is pretty much history. Dryland that made it won’t yield much at all.

    “Peanuts look good and should finish just fine. With the area’s heat and low humidity, there isn’t much leaf spot to worry about.”


    Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford:

    “Yuma yield reports are coming in high. A custom harvester who picks most of that area’s cotton says the worst looking field picked over 3.5 bales. That is about 0.75 of a bale higher than was predicted. Yuma growers could average close to 1,800 pounds per acre.

    “Tremendous heat is still impacting the central Arizona crop. The fruit load is still generally good, but a few fields will take a hit. Similar conditions are apparent in the southeastern part of the state. Cotton has made a liar out of me before, but I believe the statewide average will be near 1,500 to 1,600 pounds.

    “As we’ve seen all summer, weed pressure is still here. Pigweed is a mess. We’re still trying to determine how to deal with it. Insects were quiet most of the summer. A few farmers tell me they didn’t have to spray once.”


    Todd Baughman, Oklahoma State University Institute for Agricultural Biosciences, Research Professor, Ardmore:

    “A fair amount of the crop is burning up. Even dryland that I thought looked promising a month ago is backing up. Growers with sufficient irrigation should be fine, but I’m concerned about other areas. The crop got a late start, so it has been a concern all summer. Yields for the entire state could be below average.

    “On top of that, guys had to spray for bollworms and beet armyworms last week, which added to production costs. It will hurt us if we don’t push our yields. I’m not sure if rain will help in the next couple of weeks since it’s so late in the season. We’re getting to the point of no return.”


    AgFax News Links

    Dicamba Ban In 2021 – Got A “Plan B”? 12 Consultants Share Strategies – AgFax Weed Solutions   8-23

    Cotton Outlook: Global Production Decrease Led by U.S., Brazil   8-21

    Weekly Cotton Market Review – USDA   8-21

    Cleveland on Cotton: Reasons To Be Bearish   8-21

    Thompson on Cotton: Hurricanes Will Hang Over The Market This Week   8-23

    Future Farmers of America: Record Membership Numbers, Diversity 8-24

    Texas High Plains Cotton: Stink Bugs Remain Quiet 8-24

    Texas South Plains Cotton: 4 Questions Regarding Lygus 8-24

    Texas Rice: Seeing A New Aphid? Better Call Mo 8-21

    Texas High Plains Cotton: Insect Pressure Generally Low, Don’t Stop Scouting – Podcast 8-21

    Texas LRGV Cotton: Hanna Obliterated Crop, Tips for Stalk Destruction 8-21

    Kansas Wheat: Study Helps Identify Varieties for Dual-Purpose Systems 8-21

    Texas Blacklands Cotton: Getting Ready for Harvest Aids 8-20

    Texas Researcher to Examine Mysteries of Armyworms 8-20

    AgFax Southwest Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director. It covers cotton production in Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the main cotton growing season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
    ©2020 AgFax Media LLC

    The Latest

    Send press releases to

    View All Events

    [ecs-list-events limit="5" key="start date" order="asc"]
    Send press releases to

    View All Events