Strong Cotton Harvest Helping Farmers

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Harvest of area cotton crops has been in full swing the past several weeks.

A strong harvest has helped Clay County cotton farmers compensate for less-than-desirable crop prices, in many cases.

"For the most part, we had some very good yields," Clay County Cooperative Extension Service chair Andy Vangilder said. "I've heard guys say this is the best yield they've had."

Irrigated fields ranged from 1,200 to over 1,800 pounds of lint per acre, allowing for some fields to produce more than three bales per acre. Vangilder said many irrigated fields reported harvests in the 1,300 to 1,500 pound range, which are very good yields. Center pivot production was a little below these ranges, producing 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, still strong considering the lack of rain during much of the season.

"Basically, everybody's pretty pleased with this crop," Vangilder said. "The sad part is someof the guys didn't get to book at a good price. Those who were able to book their cotton early got pretty good prices, but the price went down from there."

Dryland fields averaged from 400 to 600 pounds per acre with some reporting yields of 900 pounds in areas closer to water sources.

Some fields had a slight delay due to rains over the past few weeks, but the crop lost little production due to the showers.

"We lost a little bit of cotton that was knocked out of the boll, but not much," Vangilder said. "I don't think those rains really hurt anybody too much. There was a bit of a delay for some, but it turned out alright for the most part. It's been a good fall."

Vangilder said the acreage for cotton in the county would likely drop next year, a result of the lower cotton prices and the strong outlook for corn and soybean prices.

"We'll always have cotton in Clay County, but I think we'll so more farms cutting back a little next year and adding more of those other crops. It's a matter of finances."

Several producers have already made preparations in the field for the next crop.

"Over the last 10 days, a lot of people have been doing ground work. They won't have as much to do next spring, and if everything works out, they could get started earlier with a good spring."

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