Despite a few setbacks, such as cooler-than-normal weather, Panhandle and South Plains cotton is in pretty good shape, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.

But the fate of dryland cotton depends on whether the area receives rain soon, said Mark Kelley, AgriLife Extension cotton specialist, Lubbock.

According to reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, approximately 4 million acres of cotton were planted in the two regions by June.
Download or preview a two-minute MP3 audio version of this report

Kelley expected something near the normal abandonment rate, which is about 15 to 20 percent, he said.

“As far as soil moisture conditions go, and crop conditions, we’re a lot better off than we have been in the last three years,” Kelley said. “But some of this dryland crop that hasn’t seen a rain in three or four weeks, it’s going to be needing some soon.”

There’s been a recent large shift from irrigated to dryland, he said. In 2013, about 37 percent of the crop was irrigated and 63 percent dryland.

“This was due to the fact that we weren’t getting any help from Mother Nature, and producers started concentrating their irrigation water on fewer acres,” Kelley said. “In 2010, the split between dryland and irrigated was about 50/50.”

Crop development is “all over the board,” he said. From just blooming to about the third week of bloom and setting bolls.

Kelley’s main responsibilities for cotton include the Panhandle and South Plains, but he said to the best of his knowledge, the Rolling Plains crop is about in the same condition.

One concern for both irrigated and dryland producers is the chance of having another early freeze, which happened in 2012, Kelley said. With much of the better cotton a couple of weeks behind in development, an early freeze could knock back yield and quality.

“I think we’ve got a decent chance of making a good crop. If we have an open fall, where we don’t get too cold too quick, and if we get good temperatures, along with some sunshine, then we should be in pretty good shape,” he said.

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at .

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled summaries for each of the 12 districts here