Rain Brings Back Hope for Oklahoma Cotton Production, but Crop Needs Long, Dry FallTue, 18 Aug 2015 20:06:22 CDT
Oklahoma’s cotton crop looks to be the best in years, but it’s going to need more time to reach its full potential. That’s according to Oklahoma State University Research Director and Cotton Extension Leader Randy Boman. In evaluating this year’s crop, he has found the dryland crop looks to be just as good as the irrigated.
“We do see some very, very good dryland fields that have very high yield potential,” Boman said. “We’re afraid to say that out loud, you know. Afraid we might jinx the whole system, but I think we’re looking at some very good yield potential in a lot of dryland fields.”
The optimistic outlook comes from several weather factors coming together this season. The record rainfall in May replenished the soil moisture profile. While the rain delayed planting, he said it was well worth the wait. When planting got underway in late May into June, Boman said this crop took off quickly.
“This crop was actually able to make it to first bloom in 47 to 53 days,” Boman said. “It looked to me, like we had an average of about 50 days to bloom and that’s pretty unusual. That’s very rapid and normally we’re expecting about a 60 day timeframe between the date of planting on through to first bloom.”
Boman attributes that surge in growth to the ideal growing conditions in June with moderate temperatures and little wind. With this ideal “greenhouse environment”, he has seen leaves on the lower portion of the plant, which are not common for the crop in southwest Oklahoma. In July, temperatures got warmer and the crop progressed.
This year, Oklahoma farmers planted about 200 - thousand acres of cotton. The biggest unknown is how this crop will finish. Mother Nature will have to cooperate this year, as the irrigated crop remains about two weeks behind in maturity. In comparing this year’s crop to other years, Boman said this is one of the most immature crops in the past ten years.
“This is going to be a cliff hanger, in a lot of respects for a lot of guys,” Boman said. “But, I think that we do have still have very good yield potential.”
With the first freeze date around November first, Boman said this crop will need warm weather for all of September and October to get this crop to reach maturity. With weather forecasters seeing strong El Nino patterns lining up, rain may arrive at the most inopportune time during harvest. Rain would cause damage the quality of the crop, something farmers don’t want to see when cotton prices are already at low levels.
Radio Oklahoma Network’s Leslie Smith caught up with Boman at the Oklahoma Irrigation Conference Tuesday at Fort Cobb.
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