Low rainfall means early cotton harvest

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 27, 2000

VIDALIA, La. — Cotton certainly is growing up fast these days, due in large part to a lack of rain, and that is prompting some farmers to start picking the crop a little earlier than normal.

But what this year’s cotton yield will be is anyone’s guess.

&uot;I’m going to guess it will 600 pounds per acre on average compared to 700 pounds in a usual year — I hope to God I’m wrong,&uot; said Concordia Parish County Agent Glen Daniels. &uot;But if I&160;had to title this year, I&160;would call it ‘the yield that could have been but wasn’t.’ &uot;

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&uot;I hope we won’t have a less-than-normal yield, but I&160;haven’t done I&160;boll count, so I won’t know for sure until we start picking,&uot; said Connell Miller, a partner with Bougere Farms in south Concordia Parish.

Miller and some of his fellow farmers will start picking cotton a little early this year — in Miller’s case, early this week, or about two weeks earlier than normal. That is because low rainfall, more than 7 inches less than normal for the year to date, has caused the bolls to mature faster, Miller said. &uot;Moisture allows the plant to keep growing, so with the lack of moisture this year the plants matured faster than usual,&uot;&160;he said.

&uot;Also, with a big rain — and we usually have two or three one-and-a-half-inch rains by now — bolls tend to fall off the plant. But we haven’t gotten those rains this year.&uot;

In other cases, some cotton are still green or have not opened, which Daniels said could either be attributed to dry weather or different varieties of cotton.

During Tuesday and Wednesday’s afternoon thunderstorms, some areas around Vidalia got about 1.5 inches of rain.

&uot;There was one field where I&160;almost got bogged down, but by the time I&160;got down to the southern end of the parish, I was kicking up dust,&uot; Daniels said.

As far as other crops are concerned, Daniels said soybean and corn yields could also be lower than normal. &uot;The only bright spot could be milo, which usually withstands drought better than other crops,&uot; he said.