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More farmers planting cotton for 2018 season

All across the Cotton Belt everyone tells us more cotton will be grown in the 2018 season than ever before.

In the Southwest area  Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas  Texas will plant an estimated 7,154,000 acres, a 3.7 percent increase. Oklahoma will plant an estimated 708,000 acres, a 21 percent increase. Kansas will plant an estimated 144,000 acre, a 55 percent increase.

Nationally, it is estimated 12,824,000 acres will be planted, a 3.8 percent increase.

Jody Campiche, National Cotton Council economics and policy analysis vice president, gives these reasons for the increased acreage:

1. Cotton prices in recent months have maintained a stronger appearance despite the increase in world production.

2. And although the current supply/demand fundamentals appear somewhat bearish, strong U.S. export sales, a weaker U.S. dollar, heavy speculative buying and large mill fixations have supported prices.

3. For the coming year, projections of record ending stocks outside of China could pressure prices.

"Looking longer term, several positive factors point to a more optimistic outlook for the cotton industry over the next few years," Campiche said. "The world economy is improving and stronger growth is projected during the next two years. World cotton demand is increasing, with current estimates calling for an increase of approximately five percent in 2017, which is more than double the previous five-year average."

Culling the herd

Two Noble Foundation staffers, Hugh Aljoe and Shan Ingram, offer some suggestions on how people with cattle can survive a drought, should the current extended dry spell become as bad as the one we suffered through in 2010-2014.

"Know your expected forage production and annual rainfall patterns by season," Aljoe said. "As a rule of thumb for warm-season perennial pastures, about 70 percent of our annual forage production will occur by July 1 regardless of the total rainfall for the year. Establish conservative stocking rates, providing an element of flexibility into the stocking rate. We need to retain ownership of all or some calves through the following spring if moisture conditions are average or better." 

Aljoe said producers should identify target dates to assess pasture conditions and make strategic decisions to keep the operation aligned with a long-term management plan. The most critical date during the growing season is the end of the second quarter, when 70 percent of the forage production should have occurred. At that time, he said, determine production to date and the variance from what was planned or expected. 

Another critical date is the end of the third quarter when forage reserves for the winter should be determined.

Other observations he made include telling producers to apply spring fertilizer and herbicide at the most productive times.

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