The 2013 Beltwide conference is set to run from Jan. 7-10 in San Antonio.

Sure to be well-attended: an irrigation session scheduled for the afternoon of Jan. 9 from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“Mainly, we want to highlight and update some really practical irrigation research that’s going on throughout the Cotton Belt,” says Dana Porter, who is putting the session agenda together.

Porter, an associate professor and agricultural engineer at Texas A&M AgriLife in Lubbock, says the recent droughts will certainly be a topic of conversation “because they’ve really affected cotton management as have increasingly limited water supplies due to drought, pumping restrictions or aquifer depletion. There are all kinds of irrigation/water-related issues that make this topic so timely for the conference.”

In 2011 and 2012, there were record-breaking droughts. “2012 has been a tough year for much of the country, but we’ve been in a hard drought (in Texas) for two years. I’ve had a lot of requests for crop weather data from many stakeholders, including crop insurance adjusters and the USDA Risk Management Agency.”

Porter has also written articles on “current season conditions compared to long-term trends. I’m just trying to provide a picture of what it looks like in the field and why we’re having trouble keeping up with water demand.”

Have Texas’ cotton growers gotten any relief?

“Late in the season, there’s been a bit of a break. Early in the season, I kept hearing from those saying conditions seemed so much better than (2011). Yes, it did look better – but we still remain in a drought.

“If you want to consider temperature, humidity, wind and other things under one umbrella, ‘crop evapotranspiration’ is a good, combined term. At mid-summer, I plotted that out — long-term average versus last year and this year.”

Porter found that 2012 conditions plotted “right in between the extreme of 2011 and the long-term average. At mid-season we were still drier than usual with higher crop water demand and less rainfall than usual.”