News

Cotton Belt Ready to Weather 2013


The agriculture industry has tended to focus primarily on the Midwest during last year’s record-shattering drought, but this region wasn’t the only one adversely affected by the weather. The Cotton Belt dealt with its own set of problems in 2012, including pervasive hailstorms in the Southwest, Hurricane Isaac damage in the Mid-South and drought conditions scattered across most of the region.

“We were in severe, extreme or exceptional drought in many cotton production regions,” says Gaylon Morgan, associate professor and cotton specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Morgan gave a region-by-region recap of cotton production in 2012 at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, held this week in San Antonio, Texas. Morgan’s colleague, Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, took a look forward to see what weather may be in store for the Cotton Belt in 2013.

“We can only forecast the weather for a week or so before randomness takes over,” Nielsen-Gammon laments. “We can tell which way the odds are being tilted, but it it’s really hard to be anything close to what we could call precise.”

However, he adds that weather prediction has an ace up its sleeve — El Niño and La Niña oceanic patterns. These events can be predicted several months in advance.

It may seem counterintuitive, but sea surface temperatures thousands of miles away in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans actually have a tremendous impact on U.S. weather patterns, he says.

“We’re in just the right latitude to be strongly affected by [El Niño and La Niña],” he says.

Both cotton and thunderstorms need some of the same basic ingredients to grow and thrive, Nielsen-Gammon says — namely heat and water. The primary difference, he explains, is that cotton stays in one place, while thunderstorms are all across the globe based on various sea surface temperature and atmospheric conditions. Unfortunately, current conditions in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have been causing problems for cotton producers, Nielsen-Gammon says.

“Both oceans are effectively working against us right now,” he says.

Predictions this fall of a weak El Niño pattern have since degraded into neutral conditions, which Nielsen-Gammon expects to continue through the beginning of summer. That equates to a tendency for slightly higher temperatures and slightly lower rainfall across the Cotton Belt this winter and spring. And as long as North Atlantic sea surface temperatures remain relatively warm, there will be a tendency for drier summers in the south-central and southeastern U.S.

Nielsen-Gammon likes the word “tendency” because he says cotton producers should ultimately prepare for any reasonable weather scenario. Weather prediction by its very nature is a notoriously fickle science.

“Surprises are natural,” he says. “The weather has a mind of its own.”

Source: Ben Potter, Farm Journal

ProAg Quick Links

Agent Toolbox Grower Toolbox Careers

ProAg News

2019 Spring Wheat Tour Preview: After Rough Spring, What Will Scouts See?

According to the North Dakota Wheat Commission's (NDWC) crop progress, development of the crop remained behind normal in all states with the exception of Minnesota. Recent of high temperatures helped accelerate crop maturity some, which should be reflected in the July 22 report and will likely be seen by tour scouts....

Beef Herd Expansion Near End?

From the low point in 2014, beef cow numbers have expanded by nine percent. Total cow numbers including dairy cows are up seven percent. Commercial beef production has increased by 11 percent a combination of seven percent more cows and a four percent increase in beef output per cow....
Get ProAg updates via email
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×