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Size of state cotton crop continues to grow

ALTUS  Everyone knew the 2018 cotton crop would be a big one, but its size continues to grow.

Listen to Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University cotton research and extension leader, describe just how large it is:

"Some of our cotton farmers are still harvesting and the gins are working overtime," he said. "For instance, Jeannie Hileman, manager of the Carnegie, Oklahoma, Farmers Cooperative gin, said although their new their new gin hadn't started processing cotton, at their older gin she didn't expect to finish their ginning until sometime in late February."

Boman, speaking at the two-day Red River Crop Conference in Altus this week, predicted farmers could plant up to 750,000 acres to cotton in 2018.

"Oklahoma produced roughly a 1.1 million bale crop this past year, he said. "Producers were fortunate to have the rainfall they did, followed by a dry fall and early freeze, which significantly impacted later-maturing cotton in the state. 

"While it was undoubtedly a great year for producers, the challenge now is getting it ginned in a timely fashion. We have 14 or 15 operational gins in the state. They will be maxed out. Cotton Growers Gin in Altus has ginned nearly 85,000 bales since harvest, with a total projection of about 200,000 bales total.

"For instance, farmers planted almost double the average of 585,000 acres and harvested 555,000 acres last year, according to USDA figures. Some of these gins will still be ginning in May. Just think of this: Farmers could be planting their 2018 crop while the gins are still processing cotton.

"While my job is working with cotton, I don't know if I would encourage farmers to plant more cotton. If we do plant many more acres, I'm not sure we will get it all ginned. "

For further proof more cotton will be planted this year, Ethan Treadwell of Frederick intends to plant all of the farm in cotton this year. Driving across all of Southwest Oklahoma, it is easy to see fields with cotton stalis where the crop has been harvested. Cotton modules stand on field turn rows waiting to be hauled to the nearest gin. 

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