The Arkansas cotton crop remains extremely variable. Cotton growth ranges from 5 or 6 leaves to bloom, with the majority of the crop averaging between 10 and 12 nodes. The USDA Agricultural Statistical Service estimates that as of Monday June 27, 48% of the crop was squaring, compared to an average of 98% squaring this time last year and the 5 year average of 78%. There is no doubt that the majority of cotton acres continue to be behind for various reasons, mostly later planting and physical damage. A small portion of the crop (10%) is blooming which will increase next week. The majority of this crop however, will not have a bloom until the second or third week of July. What we are all hoping for this year is heat unit accumulation similar to the 2010 season. If we are fortunate to experience fall weather similar to 2010, then we will accumulate more than enough heat units to mature this delayed crop. High yields are still a possibility, but all is riding on warm September temperatures to finish the crop.
Acres in central and Northeastern Arkansas seem to be either turning the corner or destroyed and planted to soybeans. Many fields have been destroyed due to sandblasting from high winds or tremendous populations of glyphosate-resistant pigweed. Pigweed populations continue to haunt many fields and farms, and mother nature has not cooperated as all had hoped. There are many success stories in regards to pigweed control, but most involve chopping crews. Plant bug populations continue to build across the state as producers made first and second applications for control. Widespread irrigation has started in areas that did not receive rainfall on Tuesday (June 28). Remember, data from Arkansas indicates the week to 10 days prior to bloom as a critical time to begin irrigation to maintain maximum cotton yields.
The USDA Agriculture Statistics Service released a report yesterday that indicated a 19% increase in Arkansas cotton acreage, resulting in 650,000 planted acres in 2011. I believe it is possible that Arkansas producers planted 650,000 acres at some point this season, but they have also destroyed several thousand acres as well. In my opinion, producers will be lucky to harvest 620,000 acres of cotton in 2011.