US - Only about 5 per cent of Texas cotton is planted, down from the five-year average of 12 per cent for this time of year, according to the latest weekly reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel across the state.
But numbers can be misleading, according to Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist, College Station.
True, wet conditions and uncertainty about cotton prices have held back plantings in many areas, but the usual planting date for the Rolling Plains, South Plains and Panhandle, where the bulk of Texas cotton is grown, is still about a month away, Morgan said.
“We’re behind, but we’re really not that much behind,” he said.
“We still have plenty of time to get cotton in the ground. We’re not a month behind; maybe a week to 14 days behind, at least in the Upper Gulf Coast and the Blacklands. The Coastal Bend is definitely behind, with the final plant date being mid-April and the expected planted acres will definitely be down. The Rio Grande Valley faced a similar challenge with its April 1 final plant date.”
Morgan said he visited the Upper Gulf Coast last week, and cotton growers there were running planters to catch up. A forecast of heavy rains, held some back.
“Four to six inches were forecast for this past weekend, but it didn’t happen in most places. Cotton seedlings are not as vigorous as grain crops. If you get too much rain on a recent planting, it can cool soil temperatures off, which makes the seedling that much weaker. And you can get a lot of compaction, which makes it harder for the seedling to push through the crust.”
Overall, the outlook for a Texas cotton crop is good, Morgan said. In most cotton growing areas, the soil moisture profile is better than it has been for some years.
“If they start with a good profile and get a good stand, and have somewhat of a normal year in moisture, they can do decently well in cotton, for sure,” he said.
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