Cotton crop is mixed
Growers across the High Plains are beginning to put the finishing touches on this year's crop, and some area gins reportedly will be in operation soon.
Although overall, the 2012 growing season has been more kind to producers than 2011, high temperatures have seared the area over the past few months. So far, Lubbock has recorded 24 days at or over the 100-degree mark.
In addition to the high temperatures, rain gauges in a significant portion of the High Plains area have recorded only 50 percent or less of average rainfall for the year to date. Currently, the West Texas Mesonet site located three miles west-northwest of Lubbock has recorded 7.14 inches for 2012. Average rainfall is about 18 inches per year.
The condition of the crop remains mixed. Caitlin Jackson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for Crosby County, said cotton there is beginning to open up and is fairly good. Some areas of the county have benefited from rainfall over the summer, and the Mesonet station at White River Lake has recorded more than 16 inches of rain so far this year.
"There are going to be some fields with decent yields, and some of our dryland fields are not too bad,' she said. "We're pretty optimistic."
Dawson County is split, said Gary Roschetzky, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for that county. Cotton is beginning to open on the north side of the county and looks better than expected, but the south side of the county is suffering and a lot of the dryland acreage "never really came around," he said.
Other parts of the High Plains continue to experience a struggle as well. With subsoil moisture lacking in much of the area, irrigation is simply nursing the crop along. Many growers are terminating irrigation in preparation for harvest.
Integrated pest management agents report that they are monitoring the presence of Kurtomathrips on the High Plains. These are highly destructive pests that can quickly defoliate cotton plants, causing damage similar to that of spider mites and possibly compromising boll size and yield.