State Cotton Harvest Lags

The San Joaquin Valley crop has been under the weather, literally.

Published on: Oct 17, 2006

The U.S. cotton harvest is on or ahead of schedule in just about every state, except California. Now admittedly, the crop is only about three percent picked at this point in a normal season, so the fact USDA says it's at 'zero' at the moment isn't a big deal. But the Golden State's San Joaquin Valley crop has been under the weather, literally, reports Calcot, Ltd, the cotton marketing cooperative.

A late cool start was partially offset by excellent weather once the crop was actually in the ground. Then the summer was too hot for two weeks and the crop lost some of its potential production.

However, after that weather was near ideal, boosting growers' hopes that a good top crop would help make up for some of the disappointment of the growing season.

Weather, however, hasn't helped as rain showers annoyed most growers. Amounts were light, just enough to wash off defoliant, make it impossible to get machinery into the field and delay harvest even farther.

Growers are optimistic they can start picking, however. Percentage of open bolls, according to USDA, is at 66%, better than last year's 55% open but down from the five-year average of 79% open.

However, crop condition index is still showing good number, with 20% excellent, 62% good and 18% fair.

Reports on early picking in California's Sacramento Valley are reporting excellent yields, which is good news.

Good news is also coming out of Central Arizona, where yields are better than expected, according to field reports. That crop is rated 37% fair, 43% good and 11% excellent, with 9% in the poor category.

Quality of the earliest harvest from the Yuma area has been very good. Picking should continue to expand, as weather has been dry and warm recently. USDA shows 19% picked as of Oct. 1, compared to 15% last year.

Texas, the nation's largest cotton producer, is 23% picked, down only one percent from last year but dead on the five-year average.