It was another terrific year for cotton, says Rex D. Friesen, crop consultant with the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Cooperative.
"Yields and grades continue to amaze," Friesen says. "I don't think it is unreasonable at all to expect a dryland average of 1,100 pounds per acre or better."
Ginning is almost done, Friesen says, and it appears that the co-op will beat its previous record of 41,935 bales ginned.
Grades are good to very good for the vast majority of bales ginned, with average grade overall still above 53 cents per pound.
Friesen says the fields that saw poorer yields of less than 800 pounds almost always have an explanation for their reduced yield, such as flooding or herbicide drift.
Good color, good leaf and very good staple (fiber length) are typical of this year's crop, Friesen says. There are premiums in micronaire and strength, and good turnout.
Cotton "base grade" is 52 cents, 41.0 color, 34.0 staple and 4.0 leaf.
The averages for Southern Kansas Cotton Growers are 29.2 color (lower is better), 36.3 staple (higher is better) and 3.4 leaf (lower is better).
"We are beating all the norms, and we expect that to continue to the end of ginning," Friesen says.
The items that most commonly cause deductions to the loan rates are barky bales, high leaf and/or low micronaire. Barky bales might result from an issue with weather, such as a hard freeze, or stripping with bats and brushes that are too tight; high leaf tends to come from “rank” plants and/or poor harvest preparation; low micronaire is the result of immature bolls at harvesttime.
"High leaf and low micronaire can often go together as relatively younger, more rank plants often do not prep as effectively as more mature plants, ending up with more leaves retained, and that typically results in lower turnout," Friesen says.
Low turnout does not create problems for the gin, but growers want as high a turnout as possible to reduce their ginning costs.
Growers are continuing to learn more about the best practices for growing cotton, he adds.
Friesen says he expects Kansas cotton acres to grow significantly, especially as cotton prices and demand remain strong and farmers seek an alternative crop to help profitability.