What is in this article?:
- Rain delays harvest of Mid-South cotton crop
- Frustrated producers
- Rain and wind from Tropical Storm Isaac did not cause as much damage to Mid-South cotton as feared, but it did delay defoliation and harvest in most Mid-South states.
- The crop needs a few weeks of sunshine and warm weather to get rolling again.
- Cotton acres may shrink in 2013 due to high corn and soybean prices, but as one cotton specialist pointed out, there is some ground where cotton still pays off.
“Many producers are more than a little frustrated,” said John Kruse, Extension cotton specialist at the LSU AgCenter. “There was damage from Tropical Storm Isaac, particularly in the southern part of the state, where the storm had a lot more energy. But considering the fact that Isaac was a hurricane at one point, everyone agreed that we lucked out.”
Persistent rain lingered even after Isaac passed through the region, further delaying defoliation and harvest of the crop. “Some producers have out one shot of defoliant. Other producers are just now getting out their second shot of defoliant and there are some who have actually been able to pick. Some of the yields have been pretty encouraging.”
Still, many cotton producers could be somewhat disappointed considering early expectations for this crop, according to Kruse. “Those occasional afternoon thundershowers in July and August were really just right. The cotton crop was clicking along real well. We had some pretty high hopes, but we just have to take what Mother Nature gives us. We are still early in the harvest.”
With rains delaying defoliation applications, Kruse said, “We could see micronaire creeping back up. Color is probably going to be a mixed bag. Most of the cotton is still on the plant, and hasn’t been washed down on the ground. We would really like some sunshine.”
The west Tennessee cotton crop can be summed up in a very short phrase, “highly variable,” said Tennessee Extension cotton specialist Chris Main. “Some dryland cotton is picking 1,000 pounds. Other dryland cotton is picking 600 pounds.”
There is still a long way to go in the season, however, with only 5 percent to 10 percent of the crop harvested by Sept. 21. “We’re a lot further along on defoliation than we were a week ago,” Main said. “Upwards of half the crop has had at least one defoliation treatment. We are on track to finish up a little bit earlier than normal, as long as we don’t keep getting rains every four days.”
Main expects a 30 percent to 40 percent decline in acres for west Tennessee in 2013-14, but much could depend on how well individual producers fare with their corn and soybean crops. “Just like our cotton crop, our corn crop was highly variable. Producers who had good corn yields are going to plant more corn next year. For producers who had poor corn yields, 750-pound cotton still plays out better than 45-bushel to 50-bushel corn.
“If we come off a 40-bushel average soybean crop, there will be more soybeans planted next year, which will further erode cotton acres next year.”
On the other hand, Main noted, “producers are realizing that there is a reason why their fathers and grandfathers planted cotton on some of this ground. We will realize that when we plant a lot of grain and get two weeks to three weeks of really dry weather that doesn’t affect our cotton.”