2010 "Disastrous" Year for Area Cotton Crop

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

2010 is turning out to be a terrible year for King Cotton. Things were looking good in the spring and early summer, but Mother Nature just didn't cooperate in July and August.

The reason for this year's terrible cotton crop is simple: we had too many scorching hot days in a row and not enough rain. Area agriculture experts say local farmers should be nervous about this year's yield.

William Birdsong is an expert when it comes to cotton. He says 2010 was too hot for the crop to handle.

“Unfortunately this year, July was very hot and very dry and it was a killer as far as the cotton crop is concerned for 2010. We're close enough to know that we're going to have a disastrous cotton crop this year,”

Area AG experts say cotton thrives in hot weather, but this summer was too hot for too long.

“It wasn't just that we had hot temperatures, it was how many days we had over 40 days that were 95 or higher. We don’t know yet how much damage those high temps will cause but they will have an effect,” said Doug Mayo, the extension director in Jackson County, Florida.

"Birdsong says in a decent year, farmers will produce anywhere between 600-800 pounds of cotton per acre...he says this year, he expects that number to be cut in half."

“It's safe to say farmers are going to have to rely upon their crop insurance to help them out on this one,” added Birdsong.

The crop is so bad; some farmers have already started harvesting.

“The rainfall, if it came now, is going to be too late,” said Birdsong.

Experts say the poor cotton crop will have an effect on the entire tri-state region.

“This area relies upon agriculture it's a big part of our economy,” commented Birdsong.

“If you make fewer profits as a farmer, you spend less money in the community,” said Mayo.

Birdsong estimates there is about 150,000 acres of cotton crop in southeast Alabama. He says they'll have a better idea just how bad the crop is towards the end of fall He believes wiregrass farmers may need to seek financial help from the federal government just to pay the bills.

Peanuts are also threatened. But adequate rain in September could save the crop from disaster.

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