Texas Crop, Weather: Cotton Agronomist - Don't Blame Inflated Blue Jean Prices On Farmers

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COLLEGE STATION -- Many producers have a lot to be thankful for as Thanksgiving approaches, but cotton producers were particularly blessed, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

"It's not often we have a good crop and a good price, and the future prices are still looking pretty good," said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension statewide cotton agronomist based in College Station. "So I think we're going to see a pretty substantial increase in cotton acreage and throughout the cotton belt next year."

In South and Central Texas, gins are nearly done with this year's crop, Morgan said.

"Visiting with county agents in the Blacklands, some of the bigger gins are expected to wrap up next week, " he said. "I haven't heard how they're doing out in the Rolling Plains and High Plains, but with the yield potential they have, I'm sure they'll be running into the spring."

In the High Plains, the cotton harvest typically isn't finished until December, and a late crop and late freeze in some areas may stretch the harvest well past New Year’s, Morgan said.

Morgan noted that there is conjecture circulating that with cotton prices doubling, the cost of clothing will double as well, he said.

"If your blue jeans double in price, it's not because of cotton prices," Morgan said. "For example, you can make 215 pairs of blue jeans out of a (500-pound) bale of cotton. So at 60-cent (per pound) cotton, that's about a $1.34 of cotton fiber in a pair of jeans. At $1.20 cotton, there's about $2.68 worth of fiber. That's about a $1.34 difference in price of jeans."

And with other clothing, the comparison is more dramatic. For example, more than 1,200 T-shirts can be made from a bale of cotton, so a doubling of the commodity price should only add about 15 cents to the end product, he said.

At this point, it's just hearsay about the rise in clothing prices, and though it seems a bit far-fetched, a similar thing happened with bread when wheat prices went up a few years ago, Morgan said.

"There may only be only a nickel's worth of wheat in a loaf of bread, but a loaf of bread doubled in price when grain prices when up," he said. "I think it's an excuse for the manufacturers to blame it on the commodity price. A lot of people don't understand that there's not a one-to-one relationship there."

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL: Crops needed rain. Wheat was turning yellow in some areas. Farmers were preparing fields for spring planting. Stocker cattle producers were providing supplemental feed because of the extended period of no rain on winter forage.

COASTAL BEND: Dry conditions adversely affected forage growth and establishment of winter pastures. Light frosts in some counties and in low-lying fields knocked back available grass for grazing. The reduction of grazing along with cooler weather caused producers to increase supplemental feeding of livestock, but the amounts being fed were still minimal. Winter wheat and oilseed crops needed rain. There was some planting of winter oilseed crops.

EAST: The southern part of the district received as much as 1.7 inches of rain. Winter forages responded well to the rain and warmer temperatures. However, producers in other counties were still waiting for better soil-moisture levels before planting. Stock ponds in areas that received rain were recovering. Livestock producers throughout the region were feeding hay and supplements. Livestock were in fair to good condition and began calving. Reports of feral hog damage were widespread.

FAR WEST: Ranchers needed rain to fill stock-water tanks and keep winter forbs and grass growing. There were burn bans in effect, and several wildfires were reported. Some counties reported the first freeze. The cotton harvest continued. The pecan harvest was expected to begin soon. Fall-planted onions emerged. Alfalfa hay production wound down.

NORTH: Soil-moisture levels ranged from short to adequate. Weather was cooler and dryer with plenty of sunshine, which promoted good growth of small grains and winter pastures. Small grains and winter annual pasture planting was nearly completed with 90 percent to 95 percent of the crop emerged. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Producers have been looking for hay to buy since the day they began feeding. Most pastures were dormant. However, some winter wheat was ready to graze. Feral hogs remained very active. The cotton harvest was ongoing, with the crop reportedly in fair to good condition. Rangeland and pastures were in poor to good condition.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near average at the beginning of the week, dropping to below average midweek and then average by week's end. No precipitation was received, and soil moisture ranged from short to surplus with most counties reporting adequate. Corn was 99 percent harvested. The cotton harvest continued. Wheat varied from poor to good condition with most areas reporting poor to fair. Rangeland varied from being very poor to good condition with most areas reporting fair. Wildfire danger was high. Cattle were in good condition. Producers were providing cattle with supplemental feed.

ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions were dry, but remained favorable for cotton harvest. Cotton yields were at or above average, and prices were well above what producers were expecting at the first of the year. Wheat producers were back in fields planting. Existing wheat stands were slow to develop due to low soil moisture. Many wheat fields had a short root system and stopped growing. Pastures also needed rain, and stock tanks were beginning to get low. Landowners were concerned wildfires might be a problem if the dry weather persists. Some landowners were cutting fireguards around pastures and rangeland. Burn bans remained in effect for some counties. Ranchers reported that even though there was enough forage for cattle, they were having to feed supplements due to the grasses having low nutrient value. Livestock were in good condition, and producers were trying to raise body condition scores before colder weather set in. The pecan harvest was under way.

SOUTH: The region remained dry. Topsoil moisture levels continued to decline. The lack of moisture in conjunction with warm days and cool nights took a toll on rangeland and pastures. Agents in all counties reported dry to very dry conditions. Livestock producers provided supplemental protein, which kept cattle in fair to good condition. In the northern part of the region, growers were actively harvesting peanuts, winter wheat was in fair condition and 100 percent of oats were planted. Producers in the western part of the region continued heavily irrigating onions, spinach, carrots and cabbages. Cabbage harvesting was very active in that area. Crops in the southern parts of the region progressed well under irrigation. Sugarcane and citrus harvesting was ongoing in that area, with some vegetable harvesting expected to begin.

SOUTH PLAINS: Except for one day of high winds (up to 47 mph) midweek, the region had seasonally mild weather. Soil moisture was short to adequate. The cotton harvest began to wind down as many producers have finished fields. Yields were good to excellent with quality remaining high. Winter wheat was in fair to good condition but needed moisture. Pastures and rangeland were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in mostly good condition with some supplemental feeding.

SOUTHEAST: Conditions varied across the region. Limited moisture in Montgomery County caused winter annuals to begin growing, but cool weather was restricting enough growth for grazing. Burleson County remained extremely dry. Brazoria County reported no rainfall this week, but moisture the preceding week helped germinate winter pastures. In Liberty County, producers planted wheat, and pastures recovered somewhat due to the rain over previous two weeks. The ratoon rice harvest was approximately 75 percent complete in some areas.

SOUTHWEST: The region has been completely dry for more than two months. Fall rainfall since Aug. 1 was less than 40 percent of the long-term average. Fields were ready for early spring planting. Pastures and rangeland entered into winter dormancy early, primarily due to the dry conditions. Forage availability was rapidly declining. Winter vegetables made excellent progress under heavy irrigation. Growers were harvesting green beans, cabbage, spinach, lettuce and peanuts. The pecan harvest was finished.

WEST CENTRAL: Days were warm with cool nights. All areas needed rain. Burn bans were reinstated. Soil moisture was very short. The cotton and grain sorghum harvests were mostly completed. Growers were nearly finished planting wheat. Rangeland and pasture grasses were drying up and withering. Stock-tank water levels continued to drop. Livestock remained in fair to good condition, with producers increasing supplemental feeding. The pecan harvest was well under way, with a good crop expected.

Source: AgriLife Communications, Texas A&M University


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