As of Sept. 1, cotton production in Mississippi “was quickly headed toward the finish line,” said Mississippi Extension cotton specialist Darrin Dodds. “I just hope the rain stays away. I’ve heard there is a lot of warm water in the Gulf, and there is some concern about hurricane activity. It will do a lot more harm than good.”

Some producers in Mississippi started defoliating cotton about two weeks ago, according to Dodds, who says most of the crop is three weeks ahead of normal. “Over the next two weeks, we’re probably going to get into a lot more defoliating. There are some pickers running, but I haven’t heard any yields yet.”

Dodds says the crop “is not quite the crop we had last year prior to harvest, but I think we have an above average crop.”

Extremely hot weather during June, July and August not only pushed maturity but also irrigation costs, according to Dodds. “We’re probably looking at about the same number of sprays for plant bugs that we averaged last year. Angus Catchot (Mississippi Extension entomologist) told me that producers have likely made a record number of spider mite applications. Overall production costs are probably a little above average.”

Arkansas

Cotton harvest “is moving along quickly,” said Tom Barber, Extension cotton specialist for Arkansas. “We’ve put a lot of defoliant out, and last week (the week of Aug. 22), we started picking non-irrigated acres and irrigated acres in the south part of the state. It’s going faster than I’ve ever seen. We could easily be done by the first of October, if the weather cooperates.”

The state’s cotton crop accumulated heat units at an astounding pace this summer, noted Barber. “We are way ahead of schedule. We had accumulated more heat units by sometime in July than we did all of last year.”

High micronaire can be a problem when weather is hot and dry, and Barber urges producers to watch closely for the problem, especially for two popular cotton varieties in the state, DP 0912 B2RF and ST 5458 B2RF. “We always want to cut some fruit in the top, but when we get to 40 percent to 50 percent open, think about defoliating. If we leave them out in the field to 70 percent or more, the chances of high mike in those two varieties are very high.”

Barber says the state’s cotton crop is probably an above-average yielding crop, but it’s come at a cost due to heavy irrigation, plant bug and spider mite sprays and oversprays for bollworm. “We need a good yield and a good price.”