Alternative Crop Options After Failed Cotton and Late-Season Crop Planting for the Texas South Plains

Texas Agricultural Extension Service
The Texas A&M University System

Calvin Trostle, Extension Agronomy, Texas A&M Lubbock, c-trostle@tamu.edu, (806) 746-6101
June 4, 2001

With storms hammering seedling cotton stands over a substantial portion of the South Plains this week, many producers will have one or more decisions to make in the coming days. On one hand if cotton was completely destroyed producers may quickly replant cotton depending on their county’s last planting date to insure cotton (June 1 in counties north of Lubbock, June 5 in the Lubbock region, and June 10 to the south). Or growers may decide to take insurance disaster payments leave it at that. Others will consider replanting to other crops.

On the other hand, growers with damaged cotton stands may not know until later this week what the insurance company says, and by that time replanting cotton is not an option unless south of Lubbock. Although your crop insurance may have considerable influence on your decision regarding damaged cotton, here are suggestions to keep in mind. First, don’t make a decision too quickly on damaged stands (unless you are replanting in time to meet an insurance cut-off date). As is the case with any crop, often replant decisions are made on insufficient information and emotion, and tearing up a stand that in fact still has respectable yield potential is a mistake to avoid. Dr. Randy Boman, TAEX cotton agronomist, suggests producers may find it appropriate to retain surviving cotton stands as low as 1.5 healthy plants per row foot (see references below).

There is plenty of time to replant to other crops, so that shouldn’t factor in terminating a questionable cotton stand. As usual, cotton herbicides, goals of the producer, and production economics will dictate which crop may be more suitable to a particular situation. Only when planting dates reach mid-June might maturity class (shorter) become a consideration for most replant crops.

Evaluating Stand Loss and Replant Decisions for Cotton

Two publications from TAEX-Lubbock may be useful for evaluating cotton stand loss and replant decisions. Contact your county agricultural extension agent (CEA) or the Texas A&M – Lubbock website at http://agrilife.org/lubbock/programs/crops/cotton/ for the following information.

Evaluating Stand Loss and Replant Decisions for Sorghum, Sunflower, and Corn

For many growers, particularly from the Lubbock area and northwest, if cotton has been hailed out then other crops may be heavily damaged as well. The following resources are also available from your CEA or https://lubbock.tamu.edu (unless noted otherwise).

For information on evaluating weather damage to other crops contact Calvin Trostle, Extension Agronomy, Lubbock, at the above phone or e-mail.

Replanting and Compliance with Government Programs

Once the decision is made to consider replanting cotton to alternative crops producers should check how planting other crops may affect their compliance with government programs. These programs may dictate which alternative crops can be planted without losing base or benefits. Contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office serving your county for specific information regarding your farm.

Replanting After Cotton – Herbicide Considerations

Foremost among replanting considerations on cotton ground are potential problems with residual cotton herbicides. Your cotton herbicide may dictate crop selection for replanting. Consult product labels for rotational crop restrictions for the herbicide you used on cotton. If faced with replanting an alternative crop on cotton ground, in some circumstances buster planting may be used to “break out” the treated soil in order to get below the herbicide zone. It is recommended that producers avoid “pulling” the treated soil toward developing plants during cultivation until later in the season in order to reduce potential for herbicide effects on developing plants.

Among crop options after cotton, soybeans, sunflower, and guar are typically grown with yellow herbicides, and thus these crops experience less risk to injury than does sorghum. Herbicide carryover injury from cotton fields may be a particular concern for the likes of Caparol, Cotoran, Karmex, Diuron, and Staple in soil residues. These herbicides are potentially more likely to injure sorghum than the yellows, often on sandy soils where residues could be relatively deep in the soil, particularly if you have received substantial rain since application. The problem of herbicide residues in soil can often be minimized if not avoided in heavier textured soils with a buster planter to establish a herbicide-free seed zone. Again, consult the chemical labels or your chemical dealer.

If Dual herbicide has been applied, Concep safened sorghum seed can be planted directly into the treated soil with little risk of sorghum injury. Like last 1999 and 2000, planting sorghum on Staple ground in 2000 is simply not recommended buster planter nonwithstanding. The Staple label also suggests producers not plant sorghum the next year on Staple-treated ground. Staple is moderately mobile in the soil according to Wayne Keeling, TAES-Lubbock. The label on Staple suggests that STS treated soybean can be used, but supplies of group IV STS soybeans on the South Plains are limited, and seed will probably need to be ordered (see more info in the soybean section below). Brent Bean, TAEX-Amarillo has tested STS soybeans prior to 2000 for tolerance to several sulfonylurea herbicides (same chemical family as Staple) commonly used in wheat at 4X rates. Only one of several herbicides gave any noticeable injury in two years.

Finally, keep in mind that a wise alternative crop choice after cotton will have a low establishment cost with the flexibility to adjust inputs only if conditions continue to improve. The best alternative crop fully utilizes previous inputs and maximizes growing conditions anticipated for your growing area.

Replant and Late-Season Cropping Options and Maturity Suggestions

Among the following crops, planting date suggestions reflect what I believe is a conservative buffer against historically average fall weather in terms of maturing various crops in advance of cool weather and average first frost dates. The past four falls beginning in 1997 have been considerably later than average. We should guard against complacency about the risk of late planted crops not approaching their yield potential (poor grain filling potential) due to the cool weather preceding frost.

A Note about Recommended Last Planting Dates

Suggestions for last recommended planting dates and/or crop maturity are given below for numerous crops. Depending on the crop these suggestions have been developed using thirty-year climate data, county elevation, hybrid or variety maturity, on-farm observations, and previous suggestions. These suggestions strive to be practical. The objective for growers is a “safe” recommended last planting date with a good expectation of successful production for the particular crop. Occasionally we have a much earlier than normal fall (frost, freeze). Thus to plant too late means a grower may risk insufficient crop maturity (low yield or test weight, poor quality, etc.) for a crop in 1 or 2 years out of 10. Although we often note historical average “first frost dates,” unmatured crops can languish during cool weather as well. Finally, last recommended planting dates, as given below, reflect an assumption that growers understand the need to shorten crop maturity with later planting dates when appropriate.

Theses suggestions should encourage the farmer to not plant so late to lose significant yield potential and economic value, but to also reduce risk of late-season crop injury to a minimal level. As our experience increases with various crops these dates will be re-evaluated.

Grain Sorghum
TAEX-Lubbock has recently released “Recommended Last Planting Date for Grain Sorghum Hybrids in the Texas Southern High Plains.” Other versions have been prepared for the Texas Panhandle, Upper Rolling Plains, and the Low Rolling Plains/Edwards Plateau. This document is available through your county extension office, the Lubbock Center, or on the web at http://agrilife.org/lubbock/programs/crops/sorghum/ . This year 18 sorghum seed companies have supplied us with their last recommended planting date for individual hybrids.

The following is a general and conservative guideline for last recommended plantings of grain sorghum hybrids on the South Plains. Note that many sorghum seed companies will have hybrids intermediate between medium and early (i.e., medium-early).

Counties Medium maturity Early maturity
Parmer, Castro, Bailey June 20 July 1
Swisher, Lamb, Hale, Floyd, Cochran, Hockley, Lubbock, Crosby, Yoakum, Terry June 25 July 5
Lynn, Garza, Gaines, Dawson, Borden, Scurry, Jones, Fisher, Andrews, Martin, Howard, Mitchell, Nolan, Taylor June 30 July 10

As planting moisture is available, mid-June is a preferred time to plant dryland sorghum as grain filling will occur in September after the worst of the summer heat is over and September rains assist the crop.

Many producers err on the side of planting too much grain sorghum seed per acre. As a result in droughty conditions producers are at risk of inadequate moisture per plant during flowering and grain fill to produce grain. This problem was quite evident in 1999 and 2000 in the South Plains. When soil moisture levels are good (5-6″ or more total stored soil moisture) a good target is 30,000-35,000 seeds/A. Sorghum seed ranges from about 12,000 to 18,000 seeds/lb., with most around 16,000 seeds/lb., thus this seeding rate is near 2.0 lbs./A for many sorghum hybrids. If soil moisture is low (2-4″), a seed drop of 25,000-30,000/A is advised. For any condition with poor soil moisture, especially as plantings approach July 1, consider 20,000 seeds/A. These seeding rates will seem unbelievably low to some sorghum growers, but data has suggested over several years that these numbers are realistic. And if moisture conditions improve substantially after planting, sorghum’s strong ability to compensate for low plant population will still make respectable yields. These seeding rate suggestions are a risk management tool. Yes, in some years a higher seeding rate might in fact offer some additional return, but the difference is minimal compared to the downside potential of having too many plants for too little available moisture thus not making a crop. Some farmers do, however, have trouble getting their planter to put out this low amount of seed.If failed cotton is going back to irrigated sorghum for limited irrigation (6-10″) with low soil profile moisture conditions, target 40,000-45,000 seeds/A, but if soil moisture is good, consider 50,000-55,000 seeds/A. For full irrigation levels, target 80,000 seeds/A on June 1, but by July consider 100,000-110,000 seeds/A for non-tillering hybrids and 80,000-90,000 seeds/A for tillering hybrids.

Because seed costs are relatively low for sorghum ($1.00-1.20 cents per pound), growers too easily increase seeding rates as it doesn’t much affect production costs. Some companies may offer half-price on seed for replanting failed cotton, but the net cost difference at the above seeding rates (~2 lbs./A for dryland) should not preclude proper hybrid selection.

Limited but timely irrigation in grain sorghum. Many producers replanting to sorghum on what was irrigated cotton may consider limited irrigation. Although producers may convert failed irrigated cotton to dryland sorghum production keep in mind that even one timely irrigationat boot stage just prior to flowering can substantially lift yield. Other timely irrigations may occur at growing point differentiation (about 28-30 days after germination for a medium-maturity hybrid), especially if dry, and during grain fill after flowering.Sorghum fertility is often by-passed in an effort to minimize costs. Sorghum requires about 2 lbs. N per 100 lbs. of grain. If dryland moisture conditions remain favorable I expect a good potential return in 2001 for sidedressing limited N, particularly if applied at growing point differentiation. Many producers for irrigated cotton who put down preplant N will probably add little if any additional N sorghum unless their sorghum yield goal is above 5000 lbs./A.

Sunflower (Lubbock Markets for Mid-Oleic NuSun Oilseed Sunflower)

NuSun Mid-Oleic Oilseed – Markets include Southern Cotton Oil and Red River Commodities, both in Lubbock, and for Panhandle growers Northern Sun in Goodland, KS. Conventional oilseed sunflower will not be accepted in Lubbock. NuSun hybrids are comparable or better than conventional oil, and with the small premium on NuSun oil, there is no reason to grow conventional oilseed sunflower.

Southern Cotton Oil (Lubbock, TX; 800.658.2650) is accepting NuSun from the Texas South Plains region for crushing in Lubbock. As of June 4 contracts were available at ~$6.75/cwt plus LDP plus oil premium at 2 for 1 for oil content above 40% delivered to Lubbock (about $0.38/cwt for 43% oil content). Growers collect the LDP, which is currently $2.96/cwt, and typically rises as harvest approaches and peaks during harvest (most likely late August to early October). A contract at the current price plus LDP (even if it doesn’t rise from the current level), and typical oil premium place gross potential at or slightly above $10.00/cwt. Growers may follow the LDP for sunflower, updated weekly every Friday morning, at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/psd/. Industry representatives have suggested that contracting and locking in the price is not necessarily the best way to go on NuSun, rather growers may deliver at any time. Most Texas sunflower growers, however, will not have storage thus must sell at harvest time. It is not necessary to contract, and one caveat for contracting for Southern Cotton Oil contracts (again not needed) is that growers agree to deliver pounds, not acres of production. Thus if contracting, growers need to be cautious about how many pounds they commit to deliver under contract. All excess will be accepted at the then current market price.Red River Commodities (Lubbock, TX; 800.763.9747) also is in the market for substantial NuSun acreage with delivery to either Lubbock, Muleshoe (Kelly Green), or Plainview (Southwestern Grain) for processing in Lubbock. Red River is offering contract based on acreage at a guarantee of $9.50/cwt regardless of oil content, and Red River assumes the risk of LDP fluctuation. Red River is also able to make landlord splits (i.e., split ticket). Also, growers will not be assessed an elevator fee or shipping charges for hauling NuSun to Lubbock if they deliver in Muleshoe or Plainview.

South Plains growers may also deliver NuSun at Texas Sesame in Muleshoe (John Chisum, 806.272.4231) for transfer to Southern Cotton Oil in Lubbock, but prices favor direct farmer delivery to Lubbock. Southern Cotton Oil cannot split tickets as a local elevator can, so growers will need to keep good records to break proceeds out to landlords. Also, Southern Cotton Oil is equipped to handle either tapered bottom trailers or trucks with their own hoist and dump gate.

For the Texas Panhandle, Southern Cotton Oil’s sister organization Northern Sun (Goodland, KS; 800.542-7333) anticipates receiving most NuSun production in the Amarillo area and north. New crop prices as of June 1 delivered to Goodland are ~$7.15/cwt + LDP plus applicable oil premium above 40% less trucking charges. Several delivery points are available in the Panhandle for NuSun, but call Northern Sun to consider if you might be better off delivering direct to Goodland and thus eliminate the elevator pass-through charge. Prices may change daily so call for current price.

Confectionary – Red River Commodities (Lubbock, TX; 800.763.9747; numerous delivery points in Panhandle and South Plains) contracts for confectionary have been full since about March. Sigco Sun (Goodland, KS; 800.742.9259) has delivery in Lazbuddie, TX, for the South Plains and Goodland, KS, for north of Amarillo. Sigco Sun contracts stipulated earlier planting (by April 20-30), and prices are about $2/cwt lower for primary or re-plant crop if not delivered by September 1, 2001.

Oil and confectionary last recommended planting dates for Texas South Plains sunflower are:

July 5 – Parmer, Castro, Bailey

July 10 – Swisher, Briscoe, Lamb, Hale, Floyd, Cochran, Hockley, Lubbock, Crosby, Yoakum, Terry

July 15 – Lynn, Garza, Gaines, Dawson, Borden, Scurry, Andrews, Martin, Howard, Mitchell

For both oilseed and confectionary hybrids, seeding rates are critical to crop success, especially confectionary where higher plant populations lead to smaller seed, which are worth only half as much as large seed. Like sorghum, general experience is that too high seeding rates can hurt the producer. My own experience is that, unless you are using an air/vacuum planter, it is essential that you take the time to calibrate the planter. In fact, it may pay to hire someone with an air/vacuum planter. The following seeding rates reflect targeted plant populations at stand establishment of 85% of planted seed. Because South Plains soil water-holding capacity (lower in sandy soils) and evapotranspiration is higher than in Kansas or Colorado, seeding rate targets are generally slightly lower than recommendations in northern states.

Irrigated
Dryland
Oilseed
20,000-23,000
14,000-18,000
Confectionary
16,000-18,000
12,000-14,000

Yield potential tends to decline slightly during the season with later planting dates, but sunflower or head moth (“the boll weevil of sunflowers”) pressure is usually also declines with later planting dates. Common concerns about sunflower production in the South Plains revolve around sunflower moth control, volunteer sunflowers the following year (use a pan header at harvest and possibly Round-Up Ready cotton the following year), and that sunflowers were “hard on the ground.” Fertility on sunflowers is not to be neglected lest subsequent residual soil fertility for the next crop be poor. In general, nitrogen fertilizer is recommended at the rate of 5 lbs. N per 100 lbs. of yield goal.

Limited but timely irrigation in sunflower. Sunflower is very adaptable to limited but timely irrigation, particularly from bud stage about 0.75-1.0″ diameter to flowering ~20 days later and then an additional 20 days.I especially recommend that new and prospective sunflower growers study production suggestions for West Texas sunflower summarized in “Common Concerns in West Texas Sunflower Production and Ways to Solve Them,” available from county ag. agents or the Internet at http://agrilife.org/lubbock/programs/crops/sunflowers/ Kansas State Univ. also has a good sunflower production guide with nice pictures on the web at http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/crpsl2/samplers/MF2384.htm

For information on sunflower insect control check with your local TAEX-IPM agent and consult TAEX bulletin B-1488, “Managing Insects Pests of Texas: Sunflower,” which can be downloaded from https://agrilifebookstore.org/pubs/eentom/ Industry partners suggest, however, that sunflower growers make their initial sunflower moth spraying decision at about 5% bloom so as to increase chances of control, even it takes a few days to get sprayed. If a grower ends up with head moth larvae infestation, typically it means that the farmer sprayed too late.

Soybeans

Soybeans may be an option on irrigated land where cotton failed. Soybeans can yield well even under limited irrigation if the irrigation is timely (flowering to mid-grain filling). For the Southern High Plains soybeans may be planted as late as July 10 and still make a crop, but late planting usually retards stalk growth and can make it hard to harvest the lower seed pods. Higher seeding rates and narrower rows may encourage higher pod set. For 2001, I have altered my planting date by maturity class suggestions from 2000 and previous years.

In the past I have suggested medium-maturity group IV soybeans may be planted by June 15 (Dimmitt) to June 25 (Lamesa), but growers should switch to an early group IV or late-maturity group III variety for later planting. Data from Hale County in 2000 suggests that mid-IV and early-IV soybeans continue to out perform group-III soybeans even when planted in early July. This study is being conducted again in 2001. Yields for all of six varieties (mid-III to V) did decline gradually and substantially in yield potential from a May 1 planting date. Group III soybeans did not perform well on June 16 and July 3 planting dates relative to group IV. Plants were very short. Also, determinate group V soybeans did not perform well at these late planting dates. Texas A&M research from the Amarillo area suggests that for each day after June 20 that soybean yield potential declines 1 bushel per day. Date from Hale County in 2001 would support a similar conclusion.

STS treated soybeans may be planted on cotton ground treated with Staple herbicide. Availability of STS soybeans in the appropriate maturity group may be limited. Check with several seed dealers to see what might be available. Expect little or no STS soybeans on hand, but if time permits, STS soybeans may be ordered although that will increase seed costs.

Seeding rates for soybean should reflect row spacing, available soil moisture, and irrigation. In general for 40-inch rows with full irrigation, consider a seed drop of about 130,000-140,000 seeds/A. For 30-inch rows, consider 160,000 seeds/A, and for drilled seeding rates growers may push seeding rates as high as 180,000-200,000/A. Reduce seeding rates slightly for less than full irrigation and/or poor soil moisture at planting.Most cotton ground probably has not been planted in soybeans before. Soybean-specific Rhizobium inoculants should be considered to ensure proper nodulation on such ground. On the South Plains soybean inoculant choices include seedbox, granular, and liquid inoculant. Although granular delivers more Rhizobium to the seed than seedbox treatments, costs may be considerably higher than seedbox treatments, and liquids are somewhere in between. If using a seedbox treatment only choose an inoculant that has a sticker to adhere the inoculum to the seed. If you can apply liquid inoculant in-furrow, application is convenient and you will deliver the highest numbers of Rhizobium to the seed.

As soon as growers decide they will plant soybeans, you need to locate Rhizobium inoculant, which most likely will be available in Hale and Lamb Counties and north. If not available, then call Urbana Laboratories, St. Joseph, MO, 816.233.3446, or LiphaTech, Milwaukee, WI, 800.558.1003, for information on how to obtain inoculum specific for soybeans. Shipping charges will be lowest for liquid or seedbox treatments.

Additional Texas Panhandle and South Plains production “Quick Tips” and irrigation information for soybeans may be found at http://taexsoilcrop.tamu.edu

Guar
Limited contracts for the drought tolerant crop guar remain available on the Texas South Plains through Wes Campbell, Floydada (806.983.2474; takes delivery on turnrow), and Klint Forbes, West Texas Guar, Brownfield (office, 806.637.8096; mobile 806.893.6680; deliver to Brownfield, with possible exceptions for contracts distant to Brownfield). Prices are about $13 to 14/cwt for Grade #1, but compare among contractors as there are differences in how trucking is accounted for in the net contract price.

Guar is best suited for dryland production on ground that has few weed problems. It is tolerant of yellow herbicides used in cotton production, but few other options are available for herbicides on guar. Guar responds well to one or two early or mid-season irrigations of 2-3″, but yields have been hurt by regular sprinkler irrigation relative to dryland production. This may be due to interference with pollination. Terry Co. data in 1999 suggested 100-125 lbs. guar per 1″ irrigation water under limited sprinkler irrigation. Because of the deep tap root on guar, this crop like sunflower, favors large individual irrigations relative to frequent irrigation.

Four varieties or guar are available and all may be planted up to about July 4 in the South Plains. Be sure to choose high quality seed that is free of morningglories. Field observations in 1999 suggest that Lewis and Esser are slightly earlier in maturity than Kinman and particularly Santa Cruz. Date from the early 1980s suggest that Lewis outyields Kinman and Esser, but Santa Cruz has not been tested yet. Dryland guar yields under average conditions are about 500-1100 lbs./A, and somewhat higher for irrigated. Guar input costs at this point are minimal and this should be considered when looking at gross and net return potential. No dryland guar in the South Plains in 1998-2000 that I know of has been treated for disease or insects. Guar appears suitable for narrower row spacings. Seed costs run about $0.50/lb, and seeding rates for dryland should target 6-8 lbs./A, the higher end as conditions are more favorable or row spacing narrows. Guar seed should be inoculated with guar-specific Rhizobium preferably one that has a sticker to adhere the inoculum to the seed for best results, although we have not had good success obtaining desired nodulation. Substantial harvest losses may be minimized by using a low profile row-crop (soybean) header relative to a conventional flex bar header.

Contractors can provide additional production information. Also, an old 1977 TAEX document entitled “Keys to Profitable Guar Production” still has some good, basic information. This and about five other documents on guar production are available from Calvin Trostle at the Texas A&M Lubbock Center.

Summer Forage Sorghum, Sorghum/Sudan and Hybrid Pearl Millet Forages
Forages are not recommended on ground with cotton herbicides due to the inability to use buster planting to protect seedlings from herbicide (unless a photoperiod-sensitive forage sorghum might be planted in rows). Planting dates for most forages such as forage sorghums, sorghum/sudans, and hybrid pearl millets extend toward early- to mid-July with prospects for good forage production.

Seed supplies for many popular summer forages, particularly the brown mid-rib types, have been drained since early spring. However, contact area seed dealers for availability. For a summary on current forage types including sorghum/sudans, forage sorghums, and millets (good for caliche soils due to Fe acquisition; no prussic acid problems) contact your local TAEX office or the Lubbock Center for “Annual Summer Forages for West Texas.” This document includes a brief introduction to the new brown mid-rib forages (lower lignin content, higher livestock palatability) and photoperiod-sensitive forages (heads out in October regardless of planting date). Also, dryland and irrigated forage seeding rate guidelines have been compiled in “Suggested Forage Seeding Rate Targets for West Texas,” also available from your local TAEX office.

Summer forage seed production contracts: Numerous seed companies in the Crosbyton-Lubbock-Plainview-Muleshoe-Hereford region contract seed production for hybrid sorghum and sorghum/sudan forages; hybrid pearl, German, and proso millet; hegari, sumac, and other forages. Returning growers are usually given the first opportunity, but call area companies you are familiar with your inquiries.Black-eyed Peas, Pinto Beans, Other Peas, Vegetable Crops – Contract Only

Numerous vegetable crops including black-eyed peas are being contracted in 2001. Price and contract availability may change weekly. Contractors often are “full” due to early season contracting, but because contract acreage may not get planted or new market requests are received, additional contracts may be offered. Thus it doesn’t hurt to call for current availability and prices.

Black-eyed peas: A special note about black-eyed peas is merited. Black-eyes, due to their popularity, can easily be overproduced if not overcontracted. Growing without a contract, or wildcatting, is strongly discouraged. Some growers doing this in 1999 received as little as $3/cwt. As an alternative crop in a hail-out situation, growers should not necessarily expect to receive prices comparable to early season contracts.Companies/contractors still offering limited 2001 contract acreage in the Texas South Plains include Muleshoe Pea & Bean (806.272.5589), deliver in Muleshoe; and possibly C.T. Smith/Peas Inc., Pleasanton, TX (Jim Taylor, call office first, 830.569.2140; mobile 210.867.9369 – deliver in Tulia at Big N Feed & Seed (or for large acreages may deliver direct to the San Antonio area).

Other contractors for black-eyed peas in 2001, which currently report no further contracts available, include: Texas-Oklahoma Production Co., Enid, OK (Curt Johnston, 580.234.1334 or Suzy Sowder, TOPCo representative in Muleshoe, 806.272.6878; delivery in Olton); James Brown, E & J Ag., Sudan (806.227.2194); and Triangle Bean & Seed (Rocky Nichols, 806.997.4500, delivery in Roundup between Anton and Shallowater). These contractors might have contracts available reflecting any recent changes in market demand or unplanted contract acreage returned to the contractor. Contract prices this spring have fluctuated around net $16 to $17/cwt, but quality adjustments, delivery terms, and payment dates vary among contractor. Thus some contracts may be more favorable than others apart from price, so call for details.

Black-eyes in the area from Muleshoe to Tulia can safely be planted up to about July 10, slightly later to the south. The crop requires about 75-80 days to maturity. Ample production information is available from your contractor. TAEX survey work in 1999 suggests that fields, which have never been in black-eye production before (or at a minimum, within the last 5 years) have higher Rhizobium nodule counts if inoculated with cowpea-specific Rhizobium inoculant to boost N-fixation nodulation.

Pinto beanacreage is pretty much full with only a few remaining contract acres available from Peas, Inc. (see phone numbers above). Also, Muleshoe Pea & Bean or James Brown have handled pinto bean acreage in the past. For information on pinto bean production in Texas contact the Lubbock Center (806.746.6101) for Dr. Rollie Roberts’ TAEX publication L-5012 “Texas Commercial Vegetable Growers Guide: Pinto Beans.”In addition, C.T. Smith/Peas Inc. has limited contracts available on several of more than twenty other types of beans and peas including crowder peas, pinkeyes, purplehulls, cremes, etc. Call for current contract availability and price. Acreage is limited but many of these crops will readily fit a short-season window. Be sure to ascertain if there are any planting restrictions after certain herbicides or other chemicals such as Temik applied to cotton.

Pinkeye cowpea contracts in 2001 may still be available through Dean Cates, Western Seed, Canyon, TX, 806.655.0723 (delivery in San Jon, NM, about 55 miles north of Clovis). Most contract production for Western Seed is in Curry County, NM, but some also occurs in Parmer and Castro Counties. Past yields have ranged around 1500 lbs./A. Western Seed contract price this year is $24/cwt, with some extra offered at $22/cwt. Also, Peas, Inc. may have pinkeye contracts available, again for delivery in Tulia.
Purple hull cowpea contract in 2001 may still be available through Texas-Oklahoma Production Co. for delivery in Olton (see above phone info). According to Curt Johnston, yields are about 2/3 of that black-eyed peas with production at ~$18-20/cwt. Also, Peas, Inc. may have purple hull contracts available.

Other seed vegetable peas and beans: C.T. Smith/Peas Inc. (see above contact info, delivery in Tulia) has 2001 contracts still available on several of the 20 or so other cowpea, bean, and vegetable seed crops they market. Call for further information.
Green beans are contracted in the Parmer-Bailey-Castro County area by Steve Brown of Allen Canning out of Arkansas (800.234.2553). He reports that the crop should be planted May 20 to July 25, needs 60 days to harvest, preferably up to 15″ of irrigation, and the crop cannot be planted after failed cotton where Temik was used. These green beans are not suitable for caliche ground. Current prices are in the $125/ton range, with yields approaching 4 tons/acre. Input costs are substantial with seed alone running about $110/A. Allen does harvesting and hauling, and preference is given to previous growers. Doug Dillon, 806.481.3285, Farwell, TX, serves as a field consultant for Allen Canning growers.

Several other contract crops may be available on a limited basis. Contact any fruit and vegetable sheds in your area to learn of other crop possibilities.

Sesame
Drought- and insect-resistant sesame is not necessarily an alternative crop after failed cotton, but a more attractive sesame market has returned for a limited number of South Plains growers, particularly in the Parmer, Bailey, and Castro County areas. For production information call Glenn Smith, Sesaco Corp., Paris, TX, at 800.527.1024. Contract information is available from Terry Weimers, Sesaco, San Antonio, TX, at 800.737.2260.

Historically, the caprock region of West Texas has grown the best quality sesame in the U.S, but old varieties were not suited (too long in season or split open dropping their seed on the ground). Newer varieties have improved shatter resistance, shorter maturity, and lower height for combining. Sesaco seeks to establish new West Texas growers to help meet market demands. Sesame may be planted, preferably on 30-inch rows, from late May to late June, and needs 95 days before first frost. In general, the crop can be grown with existing farm equipment.

No herbicides are registered for sesame, but yellows on cotton hail-out ground don’t appear to be a major problem. Contract prices in early May were $23-24/cwt, depending on previous grower status. Sesaco anticipates that for dryland production with good early season moisture, expect 500-900 lbs./A, and for irrigated production, 1000-1600 lbs./A.

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