Arkansas cotton producers “are wearing holes in their shop floors from walking back and forth. We haven’t planted anything for almost a week and a half now,” Extension specialist Tom Barber said this week.
“We got 4-5 inches of rain over the weekend and right now, it’s raining from central Arkansas south.”
According to USDA’s crop progress report, Arkansas was about 32 percent planted by May 8, but not many planters have been rolling since. “I think we’re at maybe 35 percent.”
Barber says emerged cotton “is looking alright. Some will have to be replanted depending on how much more rain we get and if these rivers and tributaries rise. Probably 10 percent of what’s been planted will probably have to be replanted.”
Barber says the worst-looking cotton in the state was planted around May 1, right before the rains started.
“After May 20, we start losing about 2 percent of our yield per day. In north Arkansas we haven’t gotten a lot planted yet. Our cutoff dates are the end of May for the northeast and around June 1 for everywhere else. That’s not much room to play with.”
Barber says if planting delays continue “we may see some farmers shift back to soybeans. When we get to June, I may have to recommend that. The margins for cotton are so close now. You have to have 1,150 pounds to 1,200 pounds to break even. If we plant June 1, a good crop is going to be only 900 pounds.”
According to Darrin Dodds, Mississippi cotton producers are just as antsy. He reported in the May 14 Mississippi Crop Situation newsletter, “As of today, we are closing in on two weeks with no appreciable field work completed. Rainfall amounts Tuesday and Wednesday ranged from 0.15 of an inch near Tunica to 1 inch plus as you travel south through the Delta. Many areas of the Hills also received a half-inch of rain over the past few days.
“Fields were already water soaked and the additional rain did not do us any favors. In most areas, if no more rain is received, it will likely be at least Tuesday, May 19, before any field work may be completed. Replanting will be necessary in areas where water stood on the field for an extended period of time and/or excessive weather damage is present.”