Cotton harvest season is just getting into full swing across the state, with south-central Kansas harvest leading the way.
And what a harvest it is so far, says Gary Feist, manager of the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Association.
"Our acres are down almost 40% because of economic reasons at decision-making time," Feist said. "But it looks like we will as many or more bales at the end of harvest as we did last year."
In fact, Feist said, he thinks a record yield for Kansas dryland cotton was set last week when a field harvested by Jim and Vic McClung near Winfield came in at 1,521 pounds – more than three bales – per acre.
"That's absolutely phenomenal for dryland. It's better than irrigated in a lot of years," Feist said. "I guess the good Lord just takes care of you once in a while."
While most other fields won't touch the three-bale mark, there will be a lot 2-bale cotton, especially in fields that were planted early, he said.
Cotton harvest in general started late this year because of cool, wet weather in late July and early August.
"The weather was actually too cool during the height of summer and we came up short of heating days to get the crop to maturity," he said. "But for the early planted cotton, we did get the heat in late August and September and all the moisture just made for really good cotton."
Jim McClung said the jury is still out on later-planted cotton, which has yet to be harvested. He said there growers were holding off to the last minute to apply boll opener to give the crop more time to mature when it was hit by an early freeze in late October.
There are a lot of fields where bolls have yet to open and yields in those fields will be impacted by the later harvest and the lack of heat for full maturity.
Additionally, Feist said, the crop in southwestern Kansas near Moscow had several fields that were severely damaged by 2-4D drift.
The gin at Winfield has been running full steam for about two weeks. Ginning is just beginning in Anthony and has yet to start at Cullison and Moscow.