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Big Freeze Arrived at Right Time for South Plains Cotton

Big Freeze Arrived at Right Time for South Plains Cotton

19 November 2014

US - The first major spell of cold weather arrived in the South Plains last week, about 10 days later than average, which was timely for finishing up the area’s cotton.

The average time for the first hard freeze in the area is around the end of October or the first of November, said Mark Kelley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension cotton specialist, Lubbock.

This year, the cotton was running about 10 days to two weeks behind because of cooler than normal days, late plantings and a wet early fall.

Moreover, because of premature freezes last year and the year before, producers were worried they would have another early October freeze, Kelley said.

“It was time for it,” he said.

“We had a lot of crops that we were having a difficult time getting killed because the moisture we received earlier in the fall. This freeze shut everything down, terminated the crop, and hopefully opened up some bolls that weren’t open yet.”

Kelley said from field examinations he did after the freeze, he found bolls cracking and he expected by the time conditions dried down after the light snow the area received along with the freeze, harvesting was likely to start “hot and heavy.”

The bit of moisture from the snow shouldn’t affect quality either, he said. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of the region’s crop was harvested before the freeze.

“Micronaires were showing the crop was pretty mature at the time of the freeze, and around that 4.2 mark, which is still in the premium range,” he said.

“Colour grade was running about 21. That’s one thing we watch when we get these late precipitation events, and unless we get a lot of rain or snow between now and harvest, we should be good.”

Micronaire is a measure of both maturity and fineness of cotton fibers, Kelley explained. If fibers are too fine and not fully mature, they slow down post harvest processing times. Too thick or too mature fibers may produce weaker yarns.

Early yields on irrigated acres have been about two bales per acre, he said.

TheCropSite News Desk

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