The heat continues to bake much of the cotton-production region of the South. Most of Texas and half of both Oklahoma and New Mexico are currently suffering Exceptional Drought, the most severe drought category as rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor government website. And a large section of North Carolina around Wilmington, as well as the southern tip of South Carolina, are rated by the Drought Monitor to be in Extreme Drought, the second most severe rating.
Still, even though they haven't seen much rain, many Carolina-Virginia farmers say they have received some timely moisture. Those fortunate ones may be inclined to feel grateful their cotton fields are faring as well as they seem to be in the latest Crop Progress report, released August 1 from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Seven percent of North Carolina cotton was rated excellent in the report, and another 44% was rated good. Thirty seven percent of cotton was rated in the report's middle category of fair. Only 12% of the cotton rated poor or very poor.
In South Carolina 1% of cotton rated excellent and 33% rated good. Forty-four percent of the crop ranked fair, 16% poor and 6% rated very poor.
But the star performer in the region is Virginia where 20% of the cotton crop is rated excellent, 67% is rated good and 13% is rated fair. No cotton in Virginia ranked in the poor or very poor condition, according to the report.
The cotton crop is also progressing at a satisfactory pace throughout the region.
In North Carolina 97% of cotton had reached the squaring stage by July 31; the five-year average, 2006-2010, is for 99% of North Carolina cotton to be squared by July 31. Eighty-three percent of cotton had set bolls by that date; the five-year average for set bolls is 81%.
In South Carolina 95% of cotton was in the squaring stage by the July 31 cutoff. The five-year average is for 93% of cotton to be at this stage. Forty-nine percent of South Carolina cotton was in the boll setting stage by June 31, with 48% being the five-year average.
In Virginia 88% of cotton had squared; the five-year average for squaring by July 31 is 93%. Commonwealth cotton was a little behind the norm for boll setting with 61% of cotton having reached that stage by July 31. The five-year average is for 70% of bolls to be set by that time in Virginia.
Download the full Crop Progress report for August 1 at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropProg/CropProg-08-01-2011.txt.
You may also want to visit the U.S. Drought Monitor map at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.