Before snow started falling from the sky, some Kansas farmers were focused on another white substance.
According to the most recent USDA Kansas Crop Progress and Condition Report, the state’s cotton is 19 percent harvested. Growers began stripping cotton over a month ago, but have seen delays from rain, and now, snow.
Before the first snow hit, Clint Betzen was out stripping a field northeast of Pratt. He said previous rains hadn’t caused much damage.
“There’s a few places where it’s drowned out,” he said. “But overall it doesn’t seem to have caused much trouble.”
As far as snow, it had some farmers nervous, as heavy snow or rain can knock cotton lint off the plant, but as the weather has cleared, Rex Friesen from Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op said he hasn’t seen much damage.
“From what I’ve seen I don’t think the snow is going to have any effect, as far as making the lint fall out,” Friesen said. “The biggest hassle now is that it has stopped harvest for at least a few days.”
Some dry, sunny days are needed to get farmers back to work in the fields.
Southern Kansas Cotton Growers has yet to begin ginning, but Friesen expects the cotton quality in southern Kansas to be good. That has been the case in northwest Kansas. The gin in Moscow, Kansas began ginning on Oct. 29.
“As of today we have ginned 6,490 bales,” said Mindy Gillespie, office manager at Northwest Cotton Growers Co-op.
Gillespie said the cotton grades this year are head and shoulders better than last year.
“Our MIC [micronaire] is at 3.8 to 4.0, above last year,” she said. “Which means our loans are better. Our average loan is at 53.5 cents, and last year they were around 46 to 47 cents.”
Micronaire is a measure of the air permeability of compressed cotton fibers. It is often used as an indication of fiber fineness and maturity. A MIC grade between 3.7 and 4.2 is as good as it gets. As the grade gets higher or lower, the cotton decreases in value.
According to the USDA report, cotton in Kansas rated 1 percent very poor, 8 poor, 37 fair, 44 good, and 10 excellent.
Cotton acreage has increased the past couple years as farmers look for crops that can withstand drought conditions. Higher quality cotton with better prices could increase the crop’s popularity in the state further.