By admin       2017-10-25

An Oklahoma State University cotton researcher and extension program director says this year’s cotton crop harvest may be three times its normal yield and the highest yield since 1933 in Oklahoma. Randy Boman, who works at the Southwest Research and Extension Center south of Altus on U.S. 283, said that means good news for Jackson and Tillman counties, the two largest cotton-producing counties in the state. The Oklahoma Boll Weevil Eradication Organization, which maintains cotton acreage statistics, that Oklahoma farmers planted 566,115 acres of cotton this year with Jackson County farmers planting 143,811 acres and Tillman County farmers planting 133,778 acres. That’s 49 percent of the state’s total. Boman said some irrigated cotton fields are yielding more than four bales per acre. Each bale weights 480 pounds and at recent prices of .65 per pound, four bales would yield $1,280 an acre. He said many irrigated farms require three bales an acres to cover expenses. And, he pointed out that some dryland cotton would yield half that amount. The United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates dryland and irrigated farmers together will average about $840 per acre in Oklahoma. For Jackson County, multiplying the number of acres by the average price per acre would yield $1.2 billion for this year’s crop and $1.12 billion for Tillman County. And such a productive year would be three times the average year, Boman said. Gary Strickland, the Jackson and Greer counties extension director and dryland cropping specialist, estimated this year’s harvesting season, which usually ends near Thanksgiving, could extend past Christmas, depending on the weather. He said he expects the cotton gins to run through March and possibly April. Cotton planting begins the first week in May on irrigated fields and extends to as late as June for some dryland farming, Boman said. Stretching out the planting period helps extend the harvest season as well, he said. With such a good year, Boman said the area doesn’t have enough harvesting capacity. In an interview last week, Jason Bates of Bates Brothers and Sons, which grows an estimated 8,700 acres of cotton, said his family’s company has contracted with a Corpus Christi farmer to bring cotton picker machines to the area with the expectation that he would send his equipment down there in a reciprocal agreement when needed. The good cotton could put more money in the coffers of local government through increase sales tax collections and vehicle registrations. “It’s a trickle down effect,” said Deb Davis, City of Altus city clerk and treasurer. “When farmers get paid for crops, they start buying more.” That includes big dollar items they may have waited years to buy including vehicles, equipment and new homes, she said. “We can tell after any of the crops come in; we know whether they’ve had a good year.” Strickland warns that weather can still mess things up and “everything is an estimate until we get the crop in.”

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