Long says the 2010 cotton he picked this May was 50 percent better than the cotton he tried to pick in December and January, after the record flooding.

He doesn’t speculate on how good or how bad his total acreage of cotton yielded, but he does stress that from one particular 25 acre field of cotton, which he planted May of 2010 and picked May of 2011, he sold his late crop for $1.02 a pound, making it the best cotton he’s ever picked.

Long admits his cotton is a little different because of his proximity to large bodies of water. His 12-month cotton was smaller fields, better shielded from winter weather, and it wasn’t defoliated. It sat in the field, and didn’t break down. Yield was nearly 1,000 pounds per acre and quality was good, according to the Virginia grower.

He says not defoliating the cotton probably helped. The leaves, he believes, helped it through the winter. “We didn’t have any Northeasters come through, so there wasn’t any really bad weather over winter.”

The year before, he had cotton he contends would have made 1,500 pounds per acre, before the northeaster hit. “These storms often just sit offshore and blast us with 40-50 mile an hour wind for days at a time.”

“We lost 30 percent of our cotton after that storm, which produced a constant wind of 40 miles per hour, with gusts even higher for 60 straight hours,” Long says.

Determined to not get into a situation in which he has to leave cotton exposed to Atlantic storms, Long planted cotton this year in conditions he says were too dry. “We were getting large clumps of soil and we couldn’t break them up properly, but we got the cotton planted,” he adds.

The early-planted cotton had a good stand, he says. Some of the late planted cotton, on the other hand, probably had an 80 percent stand at best.

In the last two weeks of June this year, the same land that got 25 inches of rain last November was inundated with 12 or more inches of rainfall.

“We weren’t able to get on the land to cultivate, which requires us to do some different things than most cotton growers do,” he says.

For one thing, he says, they will apply the first application of Pix in a tank-mix with a second application of glyphosate. And, he adds, he had to apply the chemicals with a helicopter.

“Using a helicopter is more costly, and we feel like we get 60-70 percent as good a job as applying it with a ground applicator. But, when it’s time to apply Pix, its not a good thing to wait the 10 days or so we would have had to waited to use a ground sprayer,” he adds.

Weather challenges aren’t the only holdbacks to growing cotton on Eastern Shore of Virginia. For one thing, the nearest cotton gin is in Suffolk, requiring a tedious, and expensive, trip across narrow, heavily traveled bridges and/or tunnels.

In addition to cotton, Long plants more than 200 acres of Irish potatoes, and about 400 acres of grain crops. Leaving any of those crops in the field 12 months likely wouldn’t have had nearly as favorable results as cotton, he says.

rroberson@farmpress.com