“It picked better than it looked.” That, says University of Georgia Extension Agronomist Philip Jost, could be the overall theme for his state’s 2005 cotton crop, which is expected to bring a record average yield.

Drier than normal weather during November made for excellent harvesting conditions, according to the state’s agricultural statistics service.

Georgia’s cotton production for 2005 is expected to total 2.15 million bales, up 150,000 bales from the earlier forecast and 353,000 bales above the 2004 production. If this production is realized it will be the second highest on record.

Acreage for harvest, at 1,210,000 acres, remains unchanged from earlier estimates.

The yield calculates to 853 pounds per harvested acre. If this yield is realized, it will be the highest on record. By the end of November, about 88 percent of the crop had been harvested.

All U.S. cotton production is forecast at a record-high 23.7 million 480-pound bales, up 2 percent from the November forecast and 2 percent above last year. Yield is expected to average 832 pounds per acre, up 19 pounds from earlier estimates but down 23 pounds from 2004. If realized, production will surpass the previous record set last year, while yield would be the second largest on record. However, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas also are expecting record-high yields. Area for harvest remains at 13.7 million acres but is up 5 percent from 2004.

Upland cotton harvested area, at 13.4 million acres, is unchanged from the November forecast but up 5 percent from last year.

American-Pima harvested area, at 265,000 acres, is also unchanged from November but up 7 from the 2004 harvested area.

In the Southeastern states, ideal weather conditions allowed growers to make progress with harvest. Showers during the middle of November slowed harvest progress, but by late month harvest was virtually complete in the region.

Cotton harvest was virtually complete by the first of November in the lower Delta, while producers in the upper Delta finished harvest by late month. Yield survey data show boll weights in Mississippi were the highest in the last 10 years.

In Louisiana, the count of bolls per acre was the highest on record. Warm, dry weather allowed Texas growers to finish defoliation and accelerate the harvest pace, with harvest progress ending November slightly ahead of the five-year average.

In Kansas and Oklahoma, harvest was complete by late November. Measurements show Texas boll weights to be the largest of the last 10 years and the second highest boll count per acre.