Rain needed but causes problems for parish cotton crop

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

VIDALIA, La. &045; Cotton needs rain to grow &045;&160;obviously.

But too much rain at the wrong time can devastate a crop. When Hurricane Rita drenched much of Concordia Parish, it ruined a large portion of this year’s cotton crop.

Cotton is generally sprayed with a defoliant to remove most of the leaves and stems, making it easier to harvest the cotton fiber.

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But defoliating the plants also leaves them more susceptible to wind, which can blow the fiber onto the ground, ruining it.

Thousands of pounds of cotton are sitting in mud on Concordia Parish fields, all but worthless to farmers.

Rain can cause other problems as well.

&uot;With the rain, when you put out a boll-opener, if it starts raining, that cotton never opens up,&uot; A.J. Vangilder said. &uot;The harvester just knocks that boll right off.&uot;

But even cotton that can be harvested can be adversely affected by wind and rain.

Cotton that is falling out of bolls may not be harvested completely.

But the real danger is a lowered quality of cotton if leaves are crushed into the cotton or mold begins to grow.

&uot;The blessing is that we didn’t get prolonged rain,&uot; Concordia Parish County Agent Glen Daniels said.

&uot;It would have affected the quality of the cotton. We would get some seeds sprouting in it.&uot;

Lower cotton quality drives down prices farmers can get for their cotton.