By admin       2017-10-27

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - This time of year is very important for cotton farmers. This is a do or die situation. The harvest season has begun and it is important to get the crop out prior to our late fall rainy season. In all of my years with University of Missouri Extension, it is hard for me to remember a better harvest season in Southeast Missouri. The higher temperatures to date and lack of rainfall have helped to get the cotton crop to the gin. I have seen the modules at many area gins and they are very plentiful. We are fortunate in that with the high temperatures we have had so little rainfall, I can remember when we have had cottonseed sprouting in the field. Not only does it reduce fiber quality but it also reduces the seed quality. Cottonseed is a valued commodity for livestock production. Whole cottonseed or the hulls can be mixed in various rations. However, cottonseed does contain gossypol so it is limited in use. There are many modules still left in the fields. The green and pink modules are a sight to see. I have had phone calls from the St. Louis area and Central Illinois asking about harvest and wanting to come down to see the pickers in action. This has the potential to develop into agritourism in the future. Years ago, I was involved with the Best of Market Show, the first weekend in October at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Our extension area had a display entitled, “From Field to Food”. We had different containers of food representing the crop that humans consumed. After the first year, I brought cotton and rice for the exhibit. Most of the people who stopped by to visit were from the St. Louis urban area and had no idea that Missouri grow cotton and rice. They thought that they were Southern crops. I think that agritourism would be educational but entrepreneurial farmers might be able to cash in as well. Two examples of agritourism in our area are Pumpkin Hollow near Piggott, Arkansas and Beggs Family Farm located north of Sikeston. I have been to both locations with children and both were enjoyable experiences. As I mentioned, cotton harvest has been smooth so far. According to this week’s Crop Progress and Condition Report, harvest is at 63 percent. Last week, we were at 42 percent; the previous weeks, it was at 24 and 6 percent, respectively. The five-year average is 48 percent. Last year, 71 percent of the crop had been harvested. In August, the Cotton and Wool Outlook our projected yield was estimated at 1,151 pounds per acre. That was encouraging. Then the September estimate went up to 1,196 pounds per acre. The October report is located at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/CWS/CWS-10-16-2017.pdf. It is even better. I was shocked that it is now a phenomenal 1,220 pounds per acre. Our current record is 1,117 set in 2014. At this time of the season, the USDA estimate is usually close. Even if we do drop some yield, I expect that we will set a new record. While the yield projections have also increased for many states, Missouri has increased the most. To put this in perspective, see how we compare with the rest of the cotton belt. The number of states that grow cotton are seventeen. We have a higher yield projection than all six Southeast states; we lead all five of the Delta states; we lead all three of the Southwest states. The Western region has two of the three states with higher yields. These are Arizona at 1,574 pounds per acre, and California at 1,760 pounds per acre. The western states have longer growing seasons, hot days and cool nights. Perfect weather for growing cotton. The next Cotton and Wool Outlook will come out on December 14. By then harvest will be over. The final changes in yield usually come out in the spring of 2018. While we will not have a final state average until the spring, local producers will soon know how well they did this year. We have some producers who might be pushing toward 4-bales and acre. The University of Missouri Extension office is open Monday-Friday located in Kennett, Missouri at 233 North Main Street. Contact 573-888-4722 with questions or comments. MU is an equal opportunity/ADA institution. University of Missouri Extension does not discriminate based on their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability in employment or in any program or activity.

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