LAS CRUCES – Drive down the historic byways of Doña Ana County sometime soon and you might see this year’s cotton crop being stripped from the fields.
Here are some tidbits about the crop:
• Statewide, the harvest was about 26 percent complete on Monday, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s 6 percent more than a week earlier and more than twice what it was at the same point a year ago.
• Experts believe bumper acreages were planted this season, because of an unusually high price being paid for the fluffy white fiber and because of drought because the crop tends to use less water than most.
“From visual observance, it’s been a lot more, not like it was last year,” said John Idowu, Extension Service agronomist at New Mexico State University.
• In all, 13 percent of the New Mexico cotton crop is considered in “very poor” condition, 28 percent is “poor,” 28 percent is “fair,” 17 percent is “good” and 14 percent is excellent, according to the U.S. agriculture report.
• Farmers wait for cotton bolls to be fully opened and for leaves to begin drying out – often a process begun artificially using a defoliant – before starting the harvest, according to Idowu.
• Most of the harvest should wrap up by the end of November, though some farmers may continue later.
• Some 49,700 acres of cotton were harvested in New Mexico in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
• Problems this year in some cotton-growing areas, such as the drought in Texas, will likely keep the market strong into next year, Idowu said.