As we begin harvesting cotton here in the Coastal Bend, reports on the statewide cotton situation indicate that we could be looking at a record cotton crop in Texas this year.

Projections for the total Texas cotton crop are to be around 9.5 million bales, with dryland yields in the 1.5- to two-bales per acre range. This per acre yield projection is about on target with what I expect to see harvested locally.

The overall good yield projections can be attributed to above normal soil moisture conditions, improving cotton varieties, and the success of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.

During harvest, almost all the harvested cotton is placed into module builders and stored in cotton modules on the edge of the field and transported to gins using module trucks that provide for a predictable, manageable, and economical ginning operation. Recent developments have seen the invention of on-board module builders, both by John Deere with their round bale and Case IH with the square module.

Most gins have module storage areas that facilitate all weather access to modules for processing. The module storage system has decoupled ginning from harvesting, providing an economical and safe method of handling and storing seed cotton.

Safe storage of moduled seed cotton requires good defoliation and/or desiccation prior to harvest. Good defoliation can prove to be difficult, as we saw with our local test this year, especially when it rains a few hours after the defoliation treatments are applied. Excess green vegetative material and late-season regrowth can contribute to high levels of trash and excessive moisture content (greater than 12 percent) of seed cotton in the module.

High moisture content causes modules to heat and increases the frequency of light-spot (or lower) grades and reduces seed quality.

The old standard modules vary in height and weight but they typically contain 14-16 bales of picked cotton (in picker harvested modules) or 10-14 bales of stripped cotton (in stripper harvested modules). The optimum number of harvesters per module builder depends on crop yield, row length, and operator proficiency.

Too many harvesters per module builder can result in inefficiency caused by the inability of the module builders to keep up. Too few harvesters result in underutilization of the module builders.

Now all we need is for the weather to cooperate with a dry period so that we can get our cotton crop harvested in a timely manner and take the lint to the gin.

Remote Sensing Cameras - A Valuable Wildlife Management Tool

It seems that things are getting high tech now when it comes to watching those deer out at the deer blind or out in the fields. Digital cameras have been a big hit out in the field and are proving to be a valuable tool.

The majority of the camera systems available to the public today that are suitable for unattended wildlife observation are infrared-activated. These camera systems can be a valuable tool used for wildlife management.

A special webinar to discuss this very topic will be held on Aug. 19, from noon to 1 p.m., presented by Billy Higginbotham, Wildlife and Fisheries Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and hosted by Eric Taylor, Forestry Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

OK, so you say what is a webinar? A webinar is an acronym for Web-based seminar. Instead of traveling somewhere to attend a seminar, you meet in a virtual conference room on the Internet. Webinars are free from Extension, provide current research and answer today's pressing questions.

If you have not yet participated in an Elluminate webinar, then please go to www.elluminate.com/support for instructions on setting up your computer. You should do this at least 24 hours in advance of a live webinar. If you have any hardware or software issues, you can call Elluminate Support at (866) 388- 8674.

Just point your computer browser to http://forestrywebinars.net on the day of the webinar and click on "Wildlife for Lunch - Pond Management" in the "Upcoming Webinars" section.

All you need is a modern computer with a quality Internet connection and a bag lunch. The webinar series provides sound, science-based wildlife management options delivered by experts to you in the comfort of your own home or office.

Each web-based seminar is fully interactive and allows you to engage the experts, make comments and ask questions.

If the scheduled time doesn't work for you, or you want to view a Webinar you missed, there is a good chance that it has been archived for you to access at a more convenient time.