COLLEGE STATION – “Pleasantly surprised.”

That’s how Mark Kelley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service cotton specialist, Lubbock, describes cotton producers’ reactions as yield and quality reports roll in.

Despite an “unusual” season with a late start, untimely dry weather and more than a few hail and wind damage events, many producers are seeing good yields and generally high quality, Kelley said.

Though some factors, such as bark content, have been a little high, and the total crop for the area is below the 10-year average, most producers are happy, he said.

And the harvest, though still somewhat late, has been helped along by hard freezes and harvest-friendly weather.

“We’re getting a lot of cotton out of the fields these days,” he said. “There’s a lot of cotton still to go, but we’re getting it done pretty fast.”

Kelley estimated harvesting to be about 60 percent finished. Wet weather forecast for the upcoming weekend may slow things down, but he still predicted a majority of the crop to harvested by Thanksgiving.

There will be, however, some late-planted cotton that will stretch the final finish date into December, he predicted.

Quality is good, with color grades mostly 11s and 21s, he said.

Simplified, color grades are a measure of whether the cotton is white, spotted or light spotted or tinged with yellow. Both 11s and 21s signify white color. There are 25 official American upland cotton grades, and five below grades.

“Looks like 11s and 21s coming out of both Lamesa and Lubbock U.S. Department of Agriculture classing offices,” Kelley said. “Lubbock has a little better color with more 11s.”

Leaf grade, a measure of how much leaf material is in the harvested cotton, has been running mostly two and three.

“I anticipated we might have some leaf-grade issues in some locations, just with the lateness of the crop,” he said. “Though our harvest aides performed well, we just didn’t get the defoliation we would have liked.”

Micronaire has been mostly running in the premium range, 3.7 to 4.2. Staple was running around 36 at both locations, which is a good number, Kelley said.

There wasn’t a lot of dryland cotton left, which has brought down the total estimated yields for the region of about 2.4 million bales, Kelley said.

Of course, at better than 50 percent harvested, a lot depends upon how the rest of the crop goes as for the region’s crop total.

An “average” year is hard to classify, as in the past few years, totals have been 5 million or more bales, and some really poor years where the total has been below 2 million, he said.