Mid-summer rainfall combined with cooler fall weather could impact production for late-season cotton farmers throughout Georgia.
Producers who planted their cotton between late-May and mid-June are delayed for harvest due to a deluge of rain during late-June-July and a late-October cold spell last week.
“Growers that planted towards the end of our planting window got caught by a lot of rain,” said Guy Collins, a University of Georgia Extension cotton agronomist based on the Tifton campus. “They couldn’t get in the field when they wanted to, to plant cotton. Naturally, a lot of it struggled to get a good start.”
Collins said this added “a whole new level of stress” that cotton farmers aren’t accustomed to dealing with. In other words, “we just got too much water, way too much water in areas,” he said.
As rain slowed cotton’s development in the summer, cooler weather has stymied its growth the past couple of weeks, including a near-frost in south Georgia this past weekend. Toward the north end of south Georgia’s cotton belt, Dooly County’s temperature reached as low as 35 degrees Saturday night (Oct. 26).
Cooler weather slows down development and maturity of cotton bolls that have yet to open. Frost can ultimately desiccate cotton plants, depending on the cotton’s maturity and the strength of the frost.
Normally, by mid-November approximately 80 percent of the cotton crop has been harvested. This year, however, due to the crop’s delayed growth in certain areas, Collins believes it will be around mid- to late-November before the bulk of cotton will be harvested.
As for the state’s crop as a whole, Collins is projecting anywhere from 700 to 900 pounds per acre on some fields and 1,200 to 1,300 pounds on others.
“The crop is decent. It could be a lot worse,” Collins said. “There are very few home run fields. However, there are areas that have reported really good yields.”
For more information about the state’s cotton crop, see ugacotton.com.