OSU's Seth Byrd Expects 2021 Cotton Crop to be Highly Variable Yield-WiseWed, 13 Oct 2021 12:55:51 CDT
This week, the USDA released its latest Crop Production report, which shows bigger cotton and grain sorghum crops in Oklahoma compared to September estimates. The 2021 Cotton crop continues to look promising as harvest begins.
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Director Ron Hays caught up with Dr. Seth Byrd, agronomist and extension specialist with Oklahoma State University, for his take on the situation, starting with the latest estimated cotton yield numbers.
“I think those numbers are interesting to look at, in terms of seasonal patterns,” Byrd said. “I think most of us who do cotton work hate to speculate on yields until it has been at least in the module, but preferably ginned.”
Throughout the summer, particularly July, August and especially September, Seth’s hopes have become more optimistic, he said. The crop looked better coming out of September than industry professionals predicted based on what the crop looked like in May and June, he added.
Ultimately, he said he is not surprised by the bump in production yields, but he does not think Oklahoma is looking at a record year for cotton. The crop has improved greatly from where it was at the beginning of the season, he added.
“Not every field has (caught up),” Byrd said. “If you have late-planted cotton, it is still behind. What we were seeing early on was … cotton planted in mid-May and into early-June … three or four weeks into the season was what we would typically look at a week or two into the season.”
That difference grew during the month of June, he said. Rains in July and August supported larger boll load, Byrd said, but did not help the crop catch up timewise. September, which can be the make-or-break month for cotton in Oklahoma, was mild and dry, he added. That helped the cotton plants focus energy on developing reproductively, rather than vegetatively, he said.
“We were able to have a very direct switch flipped for us because of that weather,” Byrd said. “We started seeing a lot of cotton cracking open in September we did not think we would see until October, at the earliest.”
He said overall, it has been a weird journey for Oklahoma’s 2021 cotton crop.
According to the latest USDA Crop Progress report, the Oklahoma cotton harvest is just 7% underway, while 85% of the crop’s bolls are opening. Byrd said he predicts harvest will kick off in the next week.
“The few folks who we have talked to that have harvested already (say) they have got some fields that look pretty good and some fields that did not make a much as they thought,” Byrd said. “The flipside of that is right now, everything is in a module.”
A real sense of production yields will not be available until cotton will be ginned, according to Byrd.
“It really is all speculation until it has been ginned and you have all those values in hand,” Byrd said.
He said he expects this year to be a highly variable year from a production standpoint, with 2021 being a “funky” year for crop growth and development.
Hit the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays and Seth Byrd discuss this year’s cotton crop, from start to finish, including talk of end-of-season management and best practices.
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