The 2009 Mid-South cotton crop began under difficult conditions as a cool, wet spring delayed planting. Despite the challenging start, the crop generally progressed well through the summer months, but yield and quality losses are mounting in the face of a continued wet period that began in early September.

Precipitation totals between Sept. 1 and mid-October are running well above normal in most locations in the Mid-South, with some areas having received four to five times their normal rainfall. The wet weather has been accompanied by cooler temperatures, further hindering the development of the crop.

The National Cotton Council, in conjunction with state and regional producer interest organizations, is continuing to monitor the harvest situation, according to a statement released by the NCC. The full extent of the damage is difficult to assess until weather conditions improve to allow harvest to continue.

Harvest delays are significant across all of the Mid-South and some states in the Southeast.

The week of Oct. 12 through Oct. 18 saw harvest fall farther behind the average pace as wet weather continued.

USDA’s latest estimates indicate that as of Oct. 18, only a very small percentage of the Mid-South crop had been harvested.

Mississippi shows the largest delay, with only 3 percent of cotton acres harvested, well below the five-year average of 75 percent.

Similar results are found in the other Mid-South states with Tennessee’s harvest only 3 percent complete, compared to a five-year average of 54 percent; Arkansas farmers have gathered 8 percent of the acres, down from the average pace of 64 percent; and Missouri stands at 5 percent complete, as compared to a normal pace of 60 percent.

Only Louisiana has reached double-digits in their harvest with 23 percent complete. However, at this time of year, Louisiana normally would have harvested almost 80 percent of their crop.

Though not as pronounced, delays are evident in some of the Southeast. Alabama’s harvest is 7 percent complete, compared with the 42 percent average. In Georgia, 8 percent of the acres have been picked, down from the five-year pace of 29 percent.

Rainfall totals across the Mid-South and parts of the Southeast have been well above average levels. The northern half of Mississippi, Memphis and northeast Arkansas show the greatest deviations from normal. The effects of significant rainfall totals in the first two weeks of October are not reflected in USDA’s latest crop estimates.

USDA’s weekly crop condition ratings by state show declines in the cotton crop in all Mid-South states except Missouri. The most dramatic declines are in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. In Mississippi and Louisiana, almost one-half of cotton acres are now rated as poor or very poor. In Arkansas, 35 percent of cotton acres are rated as poor or very poor.