Belonging to Jason Landes of Frederick, the bales are the first to be ginned in 2009 at the Tillman County facilility. This year, ginning season in southwest Oklahoma is starting later than in 2008, according to David Lingle, manager of the Tillman Producers Cooperative cotton gin.
"By Oct. 5, 2008, we had ginned 600 bales," Lingle said. "This year, weather has made the cotton harvest later. In 2008, we had a warm fall with plenty of open weather that helped the cotton to mature more quickly. This year, what started out to be an exceptional cotton year was slowed by the dry spell in July and August. When it did start raining, the moisture was about three weeks too late because the rain came with cooler weather in September."
Lingle expects the 2009 cotton harvest in Tillman County to be "about average."
"We may gin anywhere from 25,000 to 28,000 bales this year," he said. "Our members farm around 30,000 acres of cotton. Most of it is dryland."
A small amount of cotton received at Lingle's gin comes from irrigated acres, most of them being center pivot systems.
Lingle said Tillman County cotton was growing well during the summer until the severe dry weather came along in late July. Drought stress caused the plants to drop young cotton bolls growing on them. When the drought broke with plentiful rain in early September, the plants grew more bolls. But the lateness of the growing season and cooler weather will make it difficult for the new bolls to mature before time to harvest the cotton, Lingle said.
"When the temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, cotton begins to shut down its growth," he said. "If we had received more moisture in the summer, we would be looking at a bumper crop now," he said.
TIllman County cotton growers have been busy in recent days applying chemicals to defoliate their cotton in preparation for harvesting, Lingle said.
"We expect to start receiving a lot of cotton to gin in the next two weeks," he said. "By Nov. 1, our ginning season should be going good."
The Tillman Producers Cooperative gin gets the majority of its cotton from Tillman County farmers, Lingle said.
Concerning the surrounding cotton growing area of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, Texas reports 17 percent of its cotton harvested Oct. 4, 2009, compared to 19 percent at the same time in 2008 and a five year average of 22 percent harvested at the same time.
Oklahoma reports three percent of its cotton harvested by Oct. 4, 2009, compared to two percent at the same time in 2008 and a five year average of five percent.
Kansas reports no cotton harvested yet this year, compared to none at the same time last year and a one percent harvest figure for the five year average..
The three states ginned a total of 4,801,000 bales in 2008 and 8,675,800 bales in 2007.
For the week of Oct. 4, 2009, USDA reports Texas has 60 percent of its cotton acreage with open bolls, compared to 60 percent in 2008 and a five year average of 65 percent.
In Oklahoma for the same time, 84 percent of the cotton has open bolls in 2009, compared to 87 percent in 2008 and a five year average of 81 percent open bolls at the same time period.
Kansas, farther north with a shorter growing season, reports 41 percent of its cotton had open bolls Oct. 4, 2009, compared to 63 percent in 2008 and a five year average of 52 percent.
So far as the condition of the crop is concerned, Texas reports, on Oct. 4, 2009, 16 percent of its cotton is in very poor condition, 17 percent in poor condition, 28 percent fair, 30 percent good and nine percent excellent condition.
Oklahoma, for the same time period, reports no cotton in very poor condition, seven percent poor, 27 percent fair, 62 percent good and four percent excellent.
Kansas, for the same time period, reports four percent of its cotton in very poor condition, eight percent poor, 33 fair, 47 percent good and eight percent excellent.
The 15 US cotton producing states report 10 percent of their cotton in very poor condition, 13 percent in poor condition, 30 percent in fair condition, 38 percent good and and nine percent in excellent condition.
Source for these cotton crop figures for 2009 and previous years is the National Agrcultural Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture.
NTOK Cotton is a cotton industry partnership which encourages and supports increased cotton production in the Rolling Plains of North Texas, Oklahoma and Kanas. For more information on the cotton scene, see ntokcotton.org and okiecotton.org.