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Cotton season humming along

Oklahoma's 2017 cotton season is humming along.

Recent rains have helped dryland cotton to keep growing. The same rains caused Tom Buchanan's people to stop releasing water from Lake Altus for a week or so. Buchanan, manager of the Lugert-Altus Irrigation district, indicates water is running in the irrigation canals in Jackson County once more.

"We restarted releasing water (Thursday)," a spokesman for the irrigation district said. "Elevation at Lake Altus currently is 1,555 feet and it is 82 percent full." 

"The current cotton season has a long way to go," said Harvey Schroeder, head of the Oklahoma Cotton Council. "There was a good general rain last week and it certainly helped the dryland crop. I drove through the irrigation district last week and the cotton there is really looking good Yet we have a long way to go." 

With wheat prices down last spring, many farmers planted more acres of cotton this season. There were farmers who had not farmed cotton for several years and others who are entirely new to the crop.

These developments have caused the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service to expand its earlier estimate of the number of acres planted. According to NASS, farmers are planting 470,000 acres this year in Oklahoma. 

Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University cotton program director, who is located south of Altus at the OSU Southwest Branch Experiment Station, said the state will see a 55 percent increase compared to last year's 305,000 planted acres.

Total upland acres in the United States were estimated at just under 12 million, up about 20 percent compared to 2016.

"If we have a good to excellent production season in the state, the bale volume could once again challenge the state's cotton gins," Boman stated in his Cotton Comments, a report he puts on the internet during the cotton-growing season. Cotton Comments can be found at ntokcotton.org.

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